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Low-carbon climate resilient development UPSC NOTE

 Recent judgment 

  • The Supreme Court of India recently recognised a right to be “free from the adverse impacts of climate change” in M.K. Ranjitsinh and Others vs Union of India — sourcing it from the right to life and the right to equality

  • While this is indeed an important step in establishing climate jurisprudence in India, it raises the very important question of just how this right will be protected

  • There is, therefore, a strong case for climate legislation, but only if it is tailored to the Indian context.

Importance of a well designed law

  • Preparing India to reduce the risks of climate change and address its impacts requires nothing less than re-orienting development toward low-carbon and climate resilient futures

  • Any law that attempts to take this on must ensure these objectives are internalised in routine decision-making at all levels of development. 

  • Because climate change relentlessly targets the vulnerable, and because an energy transition must be just, it must be grounded in the imperative of advancing social justice.

  • While the concept of climate law is often associated with a top-down approach of setting and achieving targets, in a developing country, this approach is limited because addressing climate change is about more than limiting emissions.

  • Instead, it requires careful, ongoing, consideration of each developmental choice and its long-run synergies and tradeoffs with low-carbon and climate resilient futures. 

  • To achieve this, the substantive right of protection against adverse effects of climate change must be realised, in part, through well-defined procedures in law that are applicable across levels of government

  • Climate action is more credible when a well-designed institutional structure is strategising, prioritising, troubleshooting and evaluating policies behind the scenes

  • Umbrella laws that define government-wide goals and substantiate them with a set of processes and accountability measures are a known and increasingly popular way of bringing climate action to the heart of government.

  • However, these laws vary, and India’s approach must be tailored to our context. 

  • Starting from a low base of per capita emissions — less than half the global average — India’s emissions are still growing, and our objective should be to squeeze out as much development as possible from each ton of carbon and avoid locking-in to high carbon futures.

  • A framework climate law should lay out an institutional structure capable of crafting viable answers to the questions on achieving a low-carbon, resilient society. 

  • An immediate priority is to create a knowledge body in government capable of rigorously parsing policy options and the futures they might generate. 

  • An independent ‘low-carbon development commission’, staffed with experts and technical staff, which could offer both national and State governments practical ways of achieving low-carbon growth and resilience would be a great take

  • Effective climate governance also requires the ability to set directions, make strategic choices, and encourage the consideration of low carbon choices and climate change impacts 

  • A whole-of-government approach will also require dedicated coordination mechanisms for implementation. 

  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change should continue to play a central role, but it needs to be complemented by higher-level coordination

  • Any institutional structure or regulatory instrument created to protect the Court’s newly established climate right must meaningfully engage with subnational governments


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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Low-carbon climate resilient development UPSC NOTE
Low-carbon climate resilient development UPSC NOTE
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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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