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Climate Change Rights: Bustard Case



  Apr 13, 2024

Climate Change Rights: Bustard Case




1. What is the new fundamental right recognized by the Supreme Court of India?

The Supreme Court of India has recognized the right to be free from the adverse effects of climate change as a distinct fundamental right. This right is seen as essential for ensuring a healthy environment and sustainable development.

2. How does this right relate to the right to a clean environment?

Previously, the Supreme Court had recognized the right to live in a clean environment as part of the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution. The Court now views the right to be protected from climate change and the right to a wholesome environment as interconnected, warranting the former to be treated as a separate and distinct right due to the escalating threats posed by climate change.

3. What are the adverse impacts of climate change mentioned by the Court?

The Court highlighted various adverse impacts of climate change, including rising temperatures, increased frequency of storms and droughts, food shortages resulting from crop failure, and shifts in vector-borne diseases. These impacts significantly affect the quality of life and the environment.

4. Why is the right to equality linked to environmental degradation and climate change?

Environmental degradation and climate change exacerbate shortages of essential resources such as food and water. This disproportionately affects poorer and underserved communities who lack the means to cope with such adversities, thereby violating the right to equality.

5. What was the context of the Supreme Court’s emphasis on climate change?

The emphasis on climate change arose in a case that balanced the deaths of the Great Indian Bustard, a critically endangered bird, against India’s obligation to reduce emissions and increase energy capacity through non-fossil fuel sources. The case involved a conflict between environmental conservation and renewable energy development.

6. What was the Supreme Court’s 2021 order regarding the Great Indian Bustard?

In April 2021, the Supreme Court ordered that all low-voltage power lines in areas where the Great Indian Bustard is known to live or where conservation efforts are ongoing be laid underground. It also directed that existing overhead lines in these areas be converted to underground lines to prevent the birds from colliding with them.

7. What changes did the Supreme Court make to its previous order?

The Court modified its earlier directive by appointing an expert committee to determine the feasibility of laying underground and overground power lines. This modification was made after considering the technical challenges and high costs associated with converting overhead power lines to underground lines, which impacted the renewable energy sector.

8. How does this decision reflect a conflict between environmental conservation and renewable energy development?

The case illustrates the dilemma of balancing the urgent need to protect endangered species with the equally crucial goal of reducing carbon emissions through renewable energy sources. The challenge lies in finding solutions that accommodate both environmental conservation and sustainable development goals.
 

SRIRAM's


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