Evolution and Essentials of India’s Climate Policy

GS-2 or GS-3 Mains 

Short Notes or Revision Notes 

Question : Examine the role of the Supreme Court of India in shaping India’s climate policy, particularly in recognizing the right to a healthy environment as a fundamental human right.


  • India’s climate policy has significantly evolved, reflecting its commitment to addressing climate challenges.

Evolution of India’s Climate Policy

  • Focuses on synergies between development and climate outcomes.
  • Consistent and coordinated approach since the Rio Summit of 1992.
  • Rio Summit led to the emergence of:
    • United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
    • Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
    • Forest Principles
  • India championed the CBDR-RC principle (Common But Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities) at the Rio Summit.
  • Argues developed countries caused the problem through resource overexploitation.

Consumption by Developed Countries

  • High-income countries with 16% of the world’s population are responsible for 74% of excess resource use.
  • The US, EU, and other wealthy nations contribute significantly to resource overuse.
  • India remains within its sustainability limits, unlike developed countries and China.

Major Determinants of India’s Climate Policy

  • Geography:
    • India has 2.4% of the world’s land area and 4% of freshwater resources.
    • It’s the 7th largest country with rich biodiversity (17 mega-biodiverse countries).
  • Population:
    • 4 billion people, nearly one-sixth of humanity.
    • 7-8% of the world’s recorded species.
    • Low human to land ratio (0.0021 sq km) and decreasing.
  • Impacts:
    • Ranked 5th most affected country by extreme weather events (Global Climate Risk Index 2020).
    • World Bank predicts climate change could cost India 2.8% of GDP by 2050.
  • Worldview:
    • Shaped by living in harmony with nature (e.g., Prithvi Sukta, sacred groves).
    • Gandhian ideals of sustainability and environmental protection.
  • Actions:
    • Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) logo reflects reverence for nature.
    • Low historical cumulative emissions (less than 4%) and low per capita emissions (1.9 tonnes CO2).
    • Proactive domestic and international actions despite low historical contribution.

Role of Supreme Court in Climate Policy

  • Recognized the link between ecology, human dignity, and climate change.
  • Defined the right to a healthy environment as a fundamental human right.
  • Linked the right against climate change to Articles 21 (right to life) and 14 (right to equality).
  • Highlighted the interconnection between climate change and various human rights.


  • India’s climate policy focuses on inclusive growth, poverty eradication, and sustainable development.
  • It adheres to UNFCCC principles and promotes climate-friendly lifestyles.
  • India has created international institutions like ISA (renewable energy), CDRI (disaster resilience), and GBA (biofuels).
  • As the world tackles climate change, India’s climate policy will continue to evolve for a sustainable future




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