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Sunday, June 16, 2024, 12:42 pm

Sunday, June 16, 2024, 12:42 pm

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The Politics of Climate Change

Climate Change
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Observing political parties over time provides insight into how they address current concerns in their manifestos and election campaigns, regardless of their personal beliefs. Environmental and climate change are among these factors. In the 1999 election campaign, the Bharatiya Janata Party, led by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, did not include these issues in their manifestos or campaign speeches.

The manifesto was dismissive, with only one paragraph on the environment and no mention of climate change, despite its prominence in international events and national news. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 69-page manifesto for the 2024 election includes three pages of promises about climate change policies. Over the last two decades, the Congress party and other left-of-center parties have prioritised environmental problems in their manifestos. Congress appears to be leading the way in addressing climate change. What does this display signify when there is a gap between speaking and action? Reports indicate that the Modi government has exacerbated environmental deterioration and weakened environmental rules. The government has prioritised economic gain over environmental concerns, as seen in the Adani Group’s coal mining operations on forest land in Hasdeo Aranya in Chhattisgarh and the implementation of building bye-laws in Mumbai.

During the 2014-24 decade, climate impacts in Kashmir increased with heat waves, floods, unseasonal rain, and a snowless winter. However, laws such as the Coastal Regulation Zone and Environmental Impact Assessment and Social Impact Assessment norms were relaxed rather than strengthened. India’s experience with heat and floods in different parts of the country highlights the need for stronger environmental norms and laws that prioritise climate change and its impact in development, business, and agriculture. Every city and district in India requires a comprehensive plan to address climate change, rather than just a National Clean Air Programme or state Climate Action Plans. Environmental challenges now affect millions of poor Indians and have a significant impact on their livelihoods, rather than just the wealthy or those with a certain lifestyle. According to government data, nearly 80% of India’s population lives in districts that are highly vulnerable to extreme weather events. Approximately 310 million people live in low-elevation coastal areas, while another 360 million are poor and have few means to deal with climate impact. Additionally, 1.77 million are homeless.

The Supreme Court’s decision to include climate effects in human rights is noteworthy. Despite the Supreme Court’s dismissal of the issue, other courts and governments have mostly ignored it. The Bombay High Court upheld the licence to build a greenfield port in Vadhavan, Dahanu on Maharashtra’s coast, despite the fact that the area is ecologically sensitive. Tree cover has decreased across multiple cities, including Mumbai. Bengaluru’s dried-up lakes now host large IT and housing complexes. The impoverished in Chennai’s northern areas face poorer environmental conditions, including increased air pollution and low water quality compared to other areas. Cities have witnessed a significant increase in automobile population, leading to higher emissions. However, governments have done little to promote public transit. Tier 2 cities, fueled by fresh cash, often disregard environmental regulations and prioritise “development” over ecological.

Natural laws are independent of political parties and ideologies. Climate change can have a devastating impact on everyone, regardless of political party or prime minister.

ABHISHEK VERMA


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