India is considering the possibility of bringing an umbrella legislation on climate change to move ahead towards the ratification of the Paris climate agreement—a legacy that the US President Barack Obama wants to leave before his term draws to an end.
The Indo-US Joint statement this month after PM Modi's visit to the US also made mention of the shared goal of enabling entry into force of the Paris Agreement as early as possible.
It is learnt the PM's Executive Committee on Climate Change that met last month has held talks on bringing in an umbrella legislation through the Environment ministry to incorporate the many targets from across ministries and sectors. As per the climate action targets that India has indicated, a number of timebound actions need to be taken in the power, transport, agriculture, animal husbandry sectors among others to cut emissions.
While one way to effect the actions would be through a string of legislation piloted independently by each ministry, the other option now under discussion is to let the Environment ministry instead pilot an umbrella climate legislation for all targets across sectors, officials in the know told ET on condition of anonymity.
Consultations with stakeholders ministries will be initiated to assess its feasibility, he added. There has also been a thought to take the executive order route to fast track the actions to be taken- especially with the Obama-led US dispensation nudging India towards a ratification of the Paris agreement at the earliest and while Obama is in office, there is also the view that it is important to get sound legal backing for these climate action targets which only comes with legislations.
The legislative route, however, is not going to be an easy one considering the numbers in Rajya Sabha. The first of the legislations that is vital to meet our climate targets is the Compensatory Afforestation Funds bill (CAMPA).
Through unlocking of significant funds, this legislation will help meet the target to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030. the Bill though passed by Lok Sabha, awaits Rajya Sabha approval. There are other legislations that may require amendments as well. The ministries of Urban development for sustainable habitat goals, the Agriculture and Animal husbandry department may also some areas that could require legislative intervention.
Case in point the Electricity Act 2003 to achieve about 40% cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030. The Motor Vehicles Act will require amendment to achieve the commitment to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35% by 2030 from 2005 level.