Legal Aspect on Climate Change and Environment.
Legal Aspect on Climate Change and Environment.
Legal Aspect on Climate Change and Environment. Climate Change is a major concern in today’s world and we humans are responsible for its
consequences which we and our future generation will face. We humans are only reason for
this issue, so we need to work on this to save our environment. Law is a powerful word which
not only change the society but also makes the society better to live. To solve the
environment problems, we need to have adequate legal regulations, without legislative
changes and implementation it will be impossible to face the challenges which the humanity
is facing. This research paper majorly focuses on causes of climate change and legal aspects
of climate change in India and how this legal regulation is implemented in our country but
still we are lagged to face these environmental issues. It will also give a brief upon landmark
judgments which has contributed to face these environment concerns but still our contribution
towards climate change and environment is not effective enough to face the consequences of
Keywords: Climate Change, Legal, Implementation, Environment, Environmental laws.
Generally, Climate Change is referred to as a long-term significant impact on the weather of a
particular region or on a global level due to prevailing winds, topographical reasons, ocean
currents and much more. Climate change under first report of IPCC is referred to a change in
the state of the climate that can be identified by changes in the mean and the variability of its
properties and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer. Further,
Climate change is also defined as, significant, and persistent change in the mean state of the
climate or its variability”, caused by changes in the environment, including, anthropogenic
modification of the atmosphere. In the Second World War, the climate has suffered since the
global economy has increased more than tenfold. Since the Industrial Revolution began two
decades ago, the issue has gained increased attention. It was during the Industrial Revolution
of the 1950s that the general people began to use more machinery, fossil fuels, fuel petrol,
etc. Although it has shown to make the lives of the average person easier, it is harming the
environment by breaking records for carbon dioxide and other petrol emissions.
At the United Nations Climate Change Conference (Copenhagen) in December 2009, the
statement “Climate Change is one of the most significant global environmental problems
facing the world today was made.” (Conference, December ) Furthermore, Greta Thunberg, a
Swedish environmental activist, claimed that climate change is causing mankind to
experience an existential crisis, quoting, “The empty promises are the same and the inaction
is the same.” demonstrating the possibility that life on earth would terminate because of the
rapid rate of environmental degradation. (Organisation, 2007)By limiting their carbon dioxide
emissions and adhering to other conditions outlined in the Paris Agreement, numerous
nations and states have banded together to find a solution to this problem. Climate Change is
not just a present problem but if we do not focus on these environmental problems today
itself it will affect our future generation. Law is the only weapon to make changes in the
society. Through this research we will analyse the Indian Laws related to environment and
we will try to find the gaps between of these existing laws.
- Climate Change
Climate Change refers to long-term shifts due to sun’s activity or large volcanic eruptions in
temperature and whether patterns. But since 1800s, human activities have been the main
cause of climate change, primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels like coals, oils, gas.
Climate change according to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is defined as
change in the state of the climate that can be identified by changes in the mean and the
variability of its properties and that persists for an extended period, typically, decades, or
longer. Global climate change is not a future problem but changes to Earth’s climate occurs
due to increased human emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases are already having
widespread effects on the environment: the geographic ranges of plants and animals are
shifting, glaciers and ice sheets are thinning, river and lake ice is breaking up early, and
plants and trees are blossoming earlier. Scientists have long predicted that the repercussions
of global climate change will include sea ice loss, rapid sea level rise, and longer, more
extreme heat waves. “Near-term mitigation and adaptation measures have a significant
impact on the magnitude and rate of climate change and associated risks, and projected
negative effects, related losses, and damages increase with every degree of global warming.”
- Causes and Impact of Climate Change
Emission of harmful gases such as carbon dioxide is due to burning of fossil fuels like coal,
oil which increases the temperature of the earth’s surface. It is observed that the global mean
surface is now about 1.02 degree Celsius warmer than pre-industrial times. When these gases
are released into the atmosphere, the globe warms up due to the “Greenhouse Effect,” which
occurs when sunlight travels through the earth’s atmosphere and some of the heat it produces
is trapped. The causes of climate change extend beyond human activity. Future climate
change could be exacerbated by several natural and man-made factors. The causes of climate
change have been mentioned by numerous organisations including UNICEF, the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC), the UN Environment Programme
(UNEP), the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), the UNFCCC, and other
international organisations. Future climate change could be exacerbated by several natural
and man-made factors. UNICEF, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC),
and others are among the organisations.
Long term climate change will increase the risks and impact in the environment. According
to the 6 th report of IPPC Future emissions will be the primary cause of future warming, which
will have an impact on all key climate system components with many, concurrent changes
occurring in every place. Compared to earlier assessments, many climate-related risks are
deemed to be higher, and long-term effects are anticipated to be up to quadruple times greater
than what is now seen. The interaction of numerous climatic and non-climatic concerns will
cause risks to accumulate and cascade across sectors and regions. The rate of sea level rise
and other permanent effects will rely on upcoming emissions for thousands of years.
- Constitutional Protection of Environment
In 1972, India attended the United Nations Conference on environment at Stockholm. In this
conference India voiced deep concern about the degradation of environment and eco-
imbalances. India was one of the signatories of Stockholm Convention which is also known
as Magna Carta on Human Environment. As a result of this declaration, 42 nd Amendment Act
1976 was passed for providing protection and improvement of Environment under article
48A and 51A(g) of Indian Constitution. It is the constitutional obligation of the state and
citizens to protect and improve the Environment. 42nd Amendment Act 1976 added Part IV
A in the Constitution which deals with Fundamental Duties. And it is a fundamental duty of
citizens to protect and improve natural environment under Article 51A. It shall be the duty of
citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers
and. wildlife and to have compassion for creatures.
In the landmark judgement of V. Lakshmipathy vs State of Karnataka 1 it was held by the
court that Fundamental Duty with respect to environment is intended to promote people’s
participations in the protection of environment. Protection of environment is a constitutional
priority if it gets neglected than we are inviting a big disaster. Rajasthan High Court in L.K.
Koolwal vs State of Rajasthan and Ors 2 clarified the scope of Article51A(g) of the Indian
Constitution. “We can Article 51A(g) as the duty of the citizens but in fact it is the right of
the citizens to move to the court for the enforcement of the duty caste on state,
instrumentalities, agencies, departments, local bodies and statutory authorities”.
Article 48A states that the state shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and
to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country. Himachal Pradesh High Court held that in
Article 48 A and Article 51 (A) (g), there is a Constitutional pointer to the state, and a
constitutional duty of the citizens not to protect but also to improve the environment and to
preserve and safeguard, the forests, the flora and fair water resources a, lakes, rivers, and all
other water resources of the country. Article 14 provides that “The State shall not deny to any
person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of
India.” This caste duty upon the state to be fair while taking actions regarding environment
protection. Article 21 of the constitution provides fundamental right of life. Rural Litigation
and Entitlement Kendra vs State of U. P 3 is the case indicating the recognition of the right to
live in healthy environment as a part of Article 21. In M.C Mehta vs Union of India 4 also
known as oleum gas leakage case, Supreme Court once again impliedly recognise the right to
live in pollution free environment as a fundamental right to life under Article 21 of the
constitution. Numerous measures involving environmental protection and the preservation of
natural resources are included in the Indian Constitution. India currently has a lot of issues to
deal with, including its growing population, a lack of enough food and water, poor access to
healthcare, and poverty. The Indian Constitution contains a powerful cure to address all
1 ILR 1991 KAR 1334, 1991
2 AIR 1988 Raj 2, 1987 (1) WLN 134
3 1985 AIR 652, 1985 SCR (3) 169
4 1987 AIR 1086, 1987 SCR (1) 819
problems and promote the sustained growth of the country. There is a duty to safeguard and
enhance the environment under Articles 48A, 49A, and 51A,21.
- Environment Laws
The constitutional provisions gave number of laws – acts, rules, and notification. Soon after
the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, the EPA (Environment Protection Act) of 1986 went into effect.
Because it solves many legal gaps, it is regarded as an umbrella piece of legislation. After
that, a sizable as the issues started to surface, several laws were created.
Following is a list of the environmental legislations that have come into effect:
● Forest and wildlife
● The Environment (Protection) Act 1986 allows the central government the power to
safeguard and enhance environmental quality, manage, and to reduce the pollution
from all sources, and forbid or impose restrictions on the location and/or use of any
industrial facility for reasons of the environment. (indiacode.nic.in)
● Procedures for establishing regulations for the emission or discharge of environmental
pollutants are outlined in Rule 17 of the Environment (Protection) Act.
● Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) Rules 18’s main purpose is to regulate
the production, collection, treatment, importation, storage, and handling of hazardous
● Hazardous Material Production, Storage, and Import Rules establish an authority to
inspect once a year the industrial activity associated with dangerous chemicals and
separated storage facilities and specify the terms used in this context.
● Hazardous Microorganisms/Genetically Engineered Organisms or Cells: Production,
Use, Import, Export, and Storage In connection with the use of gene technology and
microbes, regulations were developed with the intention of protecting the
environment, nature, and public health.
● To offer rapid redress to those injured by accidents while handling any hazardous
substance, the Public Liability Insurance Act and Rules and Amendment,21 was
● To provide compensation for harm done to people, property, and the environment
because of any action using hazardous materials, the National Environmental Tribunal
Act 22 was established.
● The National Environment Appellate Authority Act ,1997 was established to hear
appeals on limitations on the locations where various classes of companies, etc. are
permitted to operate or mandated subject to Environment (Protection) Act safeguards.
● The Biomedical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules24 are a set of regulations
that must be followed by healthcare facilities to properly handle hospital waste,
including segregation, disposal, collection, and treatment.
● The Environment (Siting for Industrial Projects) Rules, 1999, set forth specific
guidelines regarding areas to be avoided for the siting of industries, precautions to be
taken when choosing a site, and environmental protection considerations that should
have been considered when carrying out industrial development projects.
● Each local body in charge of municipal solid waste collection, segregation, storage,
transportation, processing, and disposal is subject to the local Solid Wastes
(Management and Handling) Rules, 2000.
● Substances that Deplete the Ozone (Regulation and Control) The manufacture and
consumption of ozone depleting compounds are subject to regulations.
● Every person must comply with the Batteries (Management and Handling) Rules,
2001the producer, the importer, the reconditioner, the assembler, the dealer, the
auctioneer, the consumer, and the bulk consumer involved in the production,
handling, sale, acquisition, and utilisation of batteries or components to control and
guarantee the safe environmental disposal of spent batteries.
● Amendment to the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Act There are rules.
terms and conditions required to lessen noise pollution and allow usage of loud.
Speaking through speakers or public address systems between 10:00 p.m. and 12:00
(Or at any time during a religious or cultural holiday)
II. Forest and wildlife
● The Indian Forest Act and Amendment, 1984, is one of the many surviving colonial
statutes. It was enacted to ‘consolidate the law related to forest, the transit of forest
produce, and the duty leviable on timber and other forest produce’.
● The Wildlife Protection Act, Rules 1973 and Amendment 1991 provides for the
protection of birds and animals and for all matters that are connected to it whether it
be their habitat or the waterhole or the forests that sustain them.
● The Forest (Conservation) Act and Rules, provides for the protection of and the
conservation of the forests.
● The Easement Act ,1882 treats groundwater as an attachment to the property and
grants private rights to use it. Additionally, it declares that the state owns and is
the owner of all surface water.
● The Indian Fisheries Act,1897 creates two categories of criminal offences.
Anyone who uses dynamite or another explosive chemical in any way could be
sued by the authorities. way (coastal or inland) with the purpose of catching or
destroying any fish, including toxic species to endanger life.
● The River Boards Act of 1956 allows the states to work with the federal
government in establishing to alleviate problems with interstate collaboration, a
river advisory board was established.
● An institutional framework for preventing and reducing water pollution is
established in 1974 by the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act. It sets
effluent and water quality standards. Polluting industries are required to obtain
approval before disposing of waste in effluent bodies. This act established the
Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
● The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act of 1977 allows for the
imposition and collection of fines or cess on local governments and companies
that use water.
● The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Rules, which came into
effect in 1978, outline the types of metres that each water user must install as well
as where they should be placed.
● Construction is one of the many activities that are subject to regulation under the
Coastal Regulation Zone,1991 Notification. It offers backwaters and estuaries
● The first law to indicate concern for the workers’ working conditions was the
Factories Act and Amendment of 1987. The 1987 modification increased its
applicability to hazardous processes and intensified its environmental focus.
● The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1981 sets forth regulations for
the management and reduction of air pollution. It gives the CPCB authority to enforce
● The 1982 Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Rules outline the format for
Board meetings and the authority granted to them.
● The Atomic Energy Act, passed in 1982, addresses radioactive waste.
● The Central and State Pollution Control Boards are given the authority to respond to
serious air pollution situations by the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution)
All these acts and rules were a great towards environment protection but still these laws are
not sufficient to tackle the problem of climate change. Any law is only as good as how it is
put into implementation. The implementation process must be flawless and efficient. An
efficient monitoring system is required. The bottom line is that for laws to be effectively
enforced, we need people of integrity, a solid moral foundation, and great dedication. For our
future we must fill these gaps as soon as possible.
- Gaps in Laws
We cannot dismiss the lack of laws or policies out of the gate. Each nation has laws, and
climate change, energy conservation, pollution prevention, boosting renewable energy and
biofuels, etc.-based policies. But there is a gap somewhere. whether it’s creating objectives,
putting rules into place, or regulations, or the examination of such rules.
It is advised that nations treat the negative situation caused by the quick deterioration very
seriously. The nations must prioritise protecting the environment. Taking quick action is the
only approach to protect the climatic changes. Little things have a tremendous impact. The
government must try to create laws that are simple to execute and follow. The policy makers
must conduct a thorough analysis of their own nation to determine the statistics pertaining to
the main pollutants released in that nation, the reasons why those pollutants are still in use,
and the reasons why people aren’t acting to protect the environment.
The goals must be established in a way that makes them realistic and achievable. Small goals
must be initially set. For instance, a nation ‘X’ may decide to reduce its greenhouse gas
emissions by, say, 1% over the course of a year. The advantage of defining smaller goals is
that they will be more likely to be pursued instead of higher standards since both the policy’s
creators and implementers will believe that they can be easily accomplished.
By raising awareness and educating the local population, another crucial step is needed to
protect the climate. Continuously polluting while being selfish would not be beneficial. Even
if some nations act irresponsibly by disregarding climate change, this will not negate the
efforts of the nations that are working tirelessly to mitigate climatic changes. It is important
to comprehend that the climate affects everyone on the planet, not just one person. As a
result, the goals must be reasonable, short-term, and realistic to make it simple to adopt and
evaluate such policies and goals.
Changes in weather patterns, destruction of natural resources, and distressing behavioural
shifts negatively impact not only people but also larger populations of flora and fauna. A
healthy environment is essential for human survival and plays a significant role in human life.
Therefore, it is essential that we care for our environment and support nature in maintaining
ecological balance so that we can leave the environment to the next generation in as good of
shape as we found it, if not better. We have certain laws which is made to protect the
environment and tackle the problem of climate change. Any law is only as good as how it is
put into practise. The implementation process must be flawless and efficient. An efficient
monitoring system is required. The bottom line is that for laws to be effectively enforced, we
need people of integrity, a solid moral foundation, and great dedication. Protecting our
mother earth is a fundamental responsibility. Today, it has taken the shape of climate action
because this duty has been ignored from long time. We must emphasize on the climate action
and we must ensure the development of the last person of this society.
(IPCC), T. I. (2023). SYNTHESIS REPORT OF The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. United
Nations. Retrieved from https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/reports
Conference, U. N. (December ). United Nations Climate Change Conference. Copenhagen.
indiacode.nic.in. (n.d.). THE ENVIRONMENT (PROTECTION) ACT 1986. Retrieved from
Organisation, W. M. (2007). Climate change science – the status of climate change science. United
Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Indian Forest Act and Amendment, 1984
Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1981
Atomic Energy Act,1982
Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Amendment Act,1982
Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act of 1977
Easement Act ,1882
Indian Fisheries Act,1897
River Boards Act of 1956
National Environment Appellate Authority Act 1997