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Cop 26, the Right Time for a Shift in India’s Climate Change Laws

The recent Cop 26 meeting held in Glasgow, UK shed a light on a lot of pressing matters relating to Climate change, carbon emissions and global warming, India as a nation was able to stand out a lot in this Cop 26 due to the way its Sherpa Piyush Goyal and PM Narendra Modi put forth the matters before the other world leaders while making responsible and wise decisions on the Oaths taken.

Abin Joseph
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi In Cop 26
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi In Cop 26

The recent Cop 26 meeting held in Glasgow, UK shed a light on a lot of pressing matters relating to Climate change, carbon emissions and global warming, India as a nation was able to stand out a lot in this Cop 26 due to the way its Sherpa Piyush Goyal and PM Narendra Modi put forth the matters before the other world leaders while making responsible and wise decisions on the Oaths taken. 

In fact, India was even applauded by the International Monetary Fund for its NetZero by 2070 commitments. 

Gerry rice the spokesperson for the Imf told the press that India’s actions might even push and encourage other emerging nations to take and make more responsible actions regarding climate change. 

All of this is really fine and good however there is one pressing matter that should be addressed by the Prime minister first to stay true to the Netzero by 2070 commitments. 

The Reformation and creation of new Environment laws that govern climate change. 

For the benefit of our readers, Currently in India, there are a few relevant facts that directly govern pollution and climate change and they are the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974; the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977; the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981; the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986; Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991; the National Environment Tribunal Act, 1995 and the National Environment Appellate Authority Act, 1997; the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.  

Out of these the ones that have direct jurisdiction over Climate change and Environment are   

The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (EPA 1986),  Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974; the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.

And only The EPA 1986 presides directly over the protection of the environment and it was last amended in 1991. 

Currently, it has 3 major flaws:  

1) Despite being a major law governing Environment doesn’t have every law under it. 

  • Doesn’t define new pollution terminology like noise pollution - they are defined in a totally different act 

  • Direct participation of the citizen not mentioned which was later defined in Article 48 A and Article 51 A after the Stockholm declaration 1972 

  • Stubble burning being a crime under section 188 IPC.

2) Subservient to other laws 

Clause 24 of the EPA 1986 which defines that EPA would be subservient to the other laws if they are applicable itself shows that a person would not be punished according to this law if any other law is applicable to the crime committed. 

3) Methane Emissions 

 It doesn’t actually have any laws related to or concerning methane emissions which as discussed in the Paris agreement and in the recent Cop26 is more harmful than Carbon dioxide. 

And Indian livestock is the chiefest producer of methane in the country. 

Hence logically speaking a committee or council should be formed to look into the above mentioned or any other different flaws that our Environmental laws might currently have and fix them as soon as possible to stay true to the promise and achieve the state of net zero emissions by 2070.  

And above all, we should learn from our neighbours like Sri Lanka and not resort to quick and impulsive decisions but move forward on the basis of empirical science and scientific temper. 

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