●Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

The Supreme Court of India’s recent acknowledgment of the fundamental right to be free from the adverse impacts of climate change carries significant implications for both inclusive climate action and the application of the just transition framework.

1.Recognition of Climate Change Right:

a.The Court recognized a fundamental right against the adverse impacts of climate change, drawing from Article 14 (right to equality) and Article 21 (right to life) of the Indian Constitution.
b.This recognition underscores the judiciary’s acknowledgment of the profound threat posed by climate change to individuals’ rights to life and equality.

2.Implications for Inclusive Climate Action:
a.By acknowledging the right but refraining from articulating its specifics, the Court allows for a more nuanced and informed discourse on the content of the right.
b.This approach fosters a comprehensive understanding of climate rights, providing space for diverse stakeholders to contribute to the formulation of effective climate policies and legal frameworks.

3.Utilisation of Just Transition Framework:
a.The Court’s consideration of the just transition framework offers a pragmatic approach to addressing the complex interplay between biodiversity conservation and climate action.
b.This framework aims to ensure that transitions to a low-carbon economy are equitable and inclusive, particularly benefiting marginalised communities, workers, and non-human species like the Great Indian Bustard.

4.Preventing Adversarial Choices:
a.Adoption of the just transition framework precludes framing biodiversity protection and climate action as conflicting choices.
b.Instead, it promotes inclusive climate action that recognizes and respects the diverse rights and interests of all stakeholders involved.

5.Potential Legal Precedent:
a.If the Court applies the just transition framework in its final decision, it would establish a significant legal precedent in climate litigation, particularly concerning the consideration of non-human interests.
b.This precedent could influence future climate-related legal proceedings not only in India but also globally, contributing to the advancement of climate jurisprudence.

6.Opportunity for Inclusive Decision-making:
a.The pending final decision presents an opportunity for the judiciary to utilise the just transition framework and facilitate inclusive and equitable climate action.
b.This shared burden of ensuring inclusive decision-making falls not only on the state but also on activists, litigants, and academics, emphasising the collective responsibility in shaping climate policy and legal frameworks.

7.Delayed Climate Action:
a.India’s net-zero emission target for 2070 may delay urgent climate mitigation measures.
b.Continued reliance on fossil fuels without immediate action risks exacerbating climate change impacts.

8.Continued Fossil Fuel Dependency:
a.A distant net-zero target may perpetuate India’s reliance on carbon-intensive energy sources.
b.Delaying the transition to renewable energy could prolong air pollution and hinder public health efforts.

9.Risk of Locking in Carbon-intensive Infrastructure:
a.Long-term planning for net-zero emissions may lead to investments in carbon-intensive infrastructure.
b.Expansion of coal-fired power plants could undermine efforts to transition to a low-carbon economy.

The Supreme Court’s recognition of the right against climate change and its consideration of the just transition framework signify a significant step towards fostering inclusive and equitable climate action in India, with potential implications for global climate governance and jurisprudence.

Source The Hindu

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