IS COVID-19 THE ONLY EMERGENCY?

Authors:

Ishita Mishra, Presidency University, Bengaluru

Jyotsana Singh, CNLU Patna

Editor: Masoom Israney, Middlesex University Dubai



In recent times, various natural disasters have plagued India, such as cyclone Amphan, cyclone Nisarga and floods in Assam and forest fires in Uttarakhand. These disasters, however, are not limited just to India. Some of the significant environmental challenges faced globally within just five months of 2020 were the earthquakes in Turkey, floods in Indonesia, and even a volcanic eruption in the Philippines. Over the years, with the greater realization of the significance of effective disaster management, the critical role of a comprehensive framework of policies, along with legal and institutional arrangements, has been emphasized.1. However, not all countries have been prompt enough to evolve efficient and effective legal mechanisms. Global climate change, being the demand of the hour, is hence a topic of continually growing interest. As more international treaties come into force, the media coverage for the same has increased. The present article seeks to incorporate works that break down the difficulties associated with building up a universal system on environmental change and analyses in detail the atmosphere of global issues and their most critical components.

Major International Legal Developments Numerous international instruments have been laid down in the past years in order to resolve environmental issues. Some of the most important international treaties are:

  • 1972 UN Convention on the Human Environment

  • 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), which produced the RIO Declaration

  • 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 1997 Kyoto Protocol (and Doha Amendment to Kyoto Protocol)

  • 2002 World Earth Summit

  • 2016 Paris Agreement

Environmental change is a worldwide phenomenon, intently associated with developing non-renewable energy sources. Global law needs to primarily develop an arrangement to alleviate and transform environmental change. This would empower states to respond with new information and necessities promptly and consider the wide scope of various national interests. The global network's reaction to the test so far has been to build up a universal environmental change system, initiated by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change on 9th May 1992. This spearheading text did not set compulsory and substantial commitments to moderate environmental change. However, it has formed an exchange agreement, from which it is likely to obtain timely corrections and updates resulting from recurrent rounds of dealings involving advancement conventions.

Disaster Management Act, 2005 The arrangement system made by the Convention brought about the Kyoto Protocol, adopted on 11th December 1997, and which came into force on 16th February 2005, and later in the Paris Agreement, received by choice 1/CP.21 at the twenty-first meeting of the Conference of the Parties in December 2015, which came into power on 4th November 2016. The Kyoto Protocol sets up the commitment to decrease controlled ozone-depleting substances. However, the obligation to reduce these emissions eludes some of the countries. The Kyoto protocol had declared that by 2012, the time arrangements should have terminated with the setting of another consistency period. After a laborious exchange process and significant postponements, the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol was initiated on 8th December 2010. It incorporates new duties for created Parties and a second responsibility period from 1st January 2013 to 31st December 2020. The Doha Amendment has not gone into power yet, and it is difficult to foresee when the revision may come into force. Considering the constraints of the Kyoto Protocol model, another exchange procedure had to be made available to adopt an understanding that would shape the establishments for atmosphere activity post-2020. The Paris Agreement incorporates an overall duty to take goal-oriented endeavours to battle environmental change and also helps developing nations in their efforts to do so. This new understanding requests all countries (developed and developing) to invest their utmost efforts through "broadly decided commitments" and fortify these endeavours in the years ahead. Arrangements for the execution of the Paris Agreement have been the primary focal point of conversations in the critical meetings of the Conference of the Parties filling in as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement, held from 15 to 18th November 2016.

Challenges on International Law due to climate change With the shift in the environmental patterns, there is an urgent need for our attention towards such climate change issues. The growing population, the greenhouse effect, temperature variance, global warming, ozone layer depletion, pollution (air, water, and land), and various other human-made or natural factors persist, which cause climate change. Consequently, these factors are considered threats to the environment and have led to multiple steps being taken to control and reduce their adverse effects. At an international level, some of the major climate issues being dealt with are nuclear weapons, global warming, and ozone depletion. However, the increasing greenhouse effect, natural resource depletion, waste management, melting of polar ice caps, bush fires (such as in Australia) are some of the other recent issues that need to be resolved as soon as possible. At the national level, in India for instance, polybags have been banned, discharge from various factories are now being treated before discharge into water bodies, and ‘murti-visarjan’ has been regulated to avoid pollution. Nevertheless, these steps are not sufficient and call for other mandatory measures to be taken such as: Amendments to the existing treaties, conventions, and declarations must be made so that the member state could incorporate the same in their respective domestic laws.

Stringent laws must be legislated so that the pre-existing environmental statutes (International and national) are implemented. New legal international instruments need to be introduced, which can deal with the current climate change issues, which should also have the scope of handling foreseen future climate change challenges.

India on Climate Change As a vast, developing economy, India faces enormous difficulties related to energy and environmental change. On one side, the nation has a massive population without access to resources and an economy requesting more energy to control development. These burdens imply that energy use and emissions will probably increase considerably in the following decades. Simultaneously, India is powerless against environmental change, specifically water pressure, impact on farming, and vulnerability to climate-related catastrophes. India has made efforts to make itself a disaster-resilient country, but its large population poses an administrative challenge in dealing with disasters, especially in a pandemic such as Covid-19. However, the management can be strengthened by making the DM Act and the national and state political agencies more collaborative and consultative. There should be a combined effort to make sure that the DM Act is financially and politically empowered. In times like these, constitutional courts must also play its role to closely monitor the implementation of the Act, ensure the rule of law, and protect human rights. Nonetheless, there have been significant climate laws in India that have helped prepare for any uncertain event relating to climate change, namely:

  • Tariff Policy (2006)

  • National Action Plan on Climate Change (2008) National Electricity Plan (2012)

  • Post Copenhagen domestic Actions (2010)

Conclusion There are various environmental reasons due to which the issue of climate change is being witnessed. Absorption of solar energy by the atmosphere leading to a rise in temperature, the change in earth's orbit, greenhouse gases, plate tectonics, volcanic eruptions, an increase in carbon dioxide content, the heat released by ocean currents are some the factors behind climate change. Scientists all over the world are trying to find solutions to these various problems. Until then, each nation and every individual citizen bears the responsibility to not contribute to the previously existing issues. With slight caution and vigilance, we could take effective steps to reduce or get rid of the factors contributing to climate change. REFERENCES

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