India needs a legislation on climate change to enhance climate action: iFOREST report

A report prepared by iFOREST and released by Jairam Ramesh, former environment minister, stresses on the need for a domestic climate legislation, which should be based on the principles of equity, just transition and decarbonisation.

Shivani Gupta
| Updated: February 25th, 2021

Photo: Pixabay

With climate change and its impacts becoming a clear and present danger, there is a need for a climate change law in India to enhance action on this global crisis. This is a major recommendation of a report released today, on February 25, by Jairam Ramesh, an Indian economist and the former Union minister of environment, forest, and climate change.

“We need to have a strong domestic system of monitoring, reporting and verification on climate action and a domestic law is important for that,” said Ramesh at the release of the report in a webinar.

The report, titled ‘Environment Laws and Climate Action’: A Case for Enacting a Framework Climate Legislation, and prepared by International Forum for Environment, Sustainability & Technology (iFOREST), an independent environmental research and innovation organisation, stresses on a framework climate legislation to provide vision, coordination, target and predictability to mainstream climate change mitigation and adaptation.

“It is important that today we are speaking of taking ‘credible’ action on climate change. This iFOREST report will definitely deepen that discourse,” said Ramesh, who is also a Member of Parliament representing Karnataka in the Rajya Sabha. He stressed that apart from the Centre and state governments, local governments have an important role to play in climate adaptation and climate resilience.

The iFOREST report highlights the climate cases dealt by the Supreme Court, and the National Green Tribunal (NGT). There are around 20 cases in the Supreme Court, High Courts and NGT in which the parties have raised climate change issues.

“Climate change is still a peripheral issue in litigations in Indian Courts,” said Shibani Ghosh of Centre for Policy Research, a New Delhi-based independent think tank on public policy.

The iFOREST report noted that a framework climate legislation also can integrate provisions of Just Transition, which is increasingly gaining traction in climate change discourse.

Read: Half of Jharkand’s coal mines shut, several others unprofitable; transition away from coal must benefit local communities: iFOREST report

“Equity, Just Transition, decarbonisation, are some of the key principles that a framework climate legislation, if developed for India, should consider,” said Chandra Bhushan, founder of iFOREST, during the report release webinar.

While reflecting on the need and mechanism of enacting a climate law for the country, Bhushan said: “One analysis of the iFOREST report is how we draw in the twelve important environmental laws and their scope to develop a framework for climate legislation.”

“India’s existing laws have provisions which can be leveraged and maximised upon while envisioning a climate framework legislation. We do not need to be fixated by a net zero target, but we should be more focused on ambitious and the long-term target for effective climate action,” he added.