'India must enact law to combat climate change'

'India must enact law to combat climate change'

Representative image.

With the chorus against climate change getting louder than ever, countries around the world, including India, have expressed their commitment towards reducing carbon emissions but environmental experts feel that targets will not be achieved effectively unless there is stringent legislation to deal with the issue.

The experts were reacting to a recent statement issued by the Centre that it was not thinking about bringing legislation to tackle the issue.

Under the Paris Agreement, India pledged to reduce the emission intensity of its gross domestic product (GHG emissions per unit GDP) by 33-35 per cent over 2005 levels by 2030 and create additional carbon sink of 2.5 -3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover.

However, India does not plan to bring a legislation to achieve this target, the environment ministry told Parliament recently, which drew opposition from various environmentalists who said having a law will bring accountability which is lacking in the country.

Anjal Prakash, Research Director and Adjunct Associate Professor, Indian School of Business, opined that comprehensive legislation is the need of the hour.

"We need comprehensive and all-encompassing legislation that covers all aspects of climate change. Indian policy so far has been to avoid legislation and combat climate change through policies. It has impressively created a number of missions for the same," he said.

However, he added that unless the policies are legally binding, it would be extremely difficult to combat the rapidly changing climate.

"Legislation brings in accountability and what we lack, at the moment, is an accountable system which tackles climate change for the benefits of communities, especially the poor and marginalised people," said Prakash, who was also one of the lead authors of the IPCC report on oceans and cryosphere.

Expressing a similar view, Greenpeace India's Avinash Chanchal said it was important to fix accountability and declare a climate emergency.

He said there is need for implementing existing regulations on the ground in letter and spirit, strengthening and providing funding for disaster management and climate adaptation.

"While doing that it is also required that India declares a climate emergency and comes up with regulation and plan to phase out coal and reduce dependence on other fossil fuels to achieve net-zero carbon emissions in a planned and timed manner," Chanchal said.

A scientist at IIT-Bhubaneshwar said though it was a policy decision by the government, he was in favour of enactment of a law to fight climate change and reduce carbon emissions.

"We are scientists. I feel that (making a law on climate change) is a policy decision to make for the government. If you are asking me as an individual, I would say yes. That would be great," said IIT-Bhubaneshwar Professor V Vinoj.

Countries which have enacted legislation in this regard are New Zealand, United Kingdom, France, Sweden and Scotland.

While New Zealand enacted emissions-target legislation aiming to eliminate carbon emissions by 2050, the other four countries also passed their own laws pledging to reach net-zero emissions.

While most countries are still trying to reduce their carbon footprints, there are two countries which have already declared themselves carbon negative - Suriname, a country on the northeastern coast of South America, and Bhutan, as per the World Economic Forum.

While New Zealand's climate change law commits the country to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and reduce methane emissions in the range of 24-47 per cent in the same time frame, Sweden's law aims to achieve the same target by 2045.

The Climate Change Act of Scotland includes an emissions target, set for the year 2050, for a reduction of at least 80 per cent from the baseline year, 1990.

COP 25 on climate change recently concluded in Madrid in which India urged developed nations to provide climate finance as promised and proposed to have more joint research and collaboration.

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