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The evolution and essentials of India’s climate policy

13th April, 2024 Environment

The evolution and essentials of India’s climate policy

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  • In recent years, the urgency of addressing climate change has become increasingly evident, propelling nations worldwide to commit to ambitious clean energy targets. Among these nations, India has emerged as a pioneer in sustainable development and climate action.

Determinants of climate policy in India

  • India's climate policy is shaped by five determinants: geography, population, impacts, worldview, and actions.
  • India's geography, population, and vulnerability to climate change impacts, such as extreme weather events, inform its climate policy.
  • The Indian worldview emphasizes living in harmony with nature, evident in cultural and philosophical traditions like the 'Prithvi Sukta' and Gandhi's ideals.
  • India's climate actions are based on science and evidence, despite historically low emissions, and include initiatives like the International Solar Alliance.
  • India’s climate policy is informed by its vision of inclusive growth for all-round economic and social development, the eradication of poverty, a declining carbon budget, firm adherence to the foundational principles of the UNFCCC, and climate-friendly lifestyles.

The five major determinants of India’s climate policy

India’s climate policy is based on five major determinants: geography, population, impacts, worldview, and actions.


  • The Indian landmass has an area of 3.28 million sq km, accounting for 2.4% of the world’s geographical land surface area and 4% of the world’s freshwater resources.
  • India is the seventh largest country in the world. It is one of the 17 mega-biodiverse countries, having four biodiversity hotspots, 10 bio-geographic zones, and 22 agro-biodiversity hotspots.
  • India experiences six different seasons, and its civilization and economy have developed in harmony with this seasonal cycle.
  • In recent decades, climate change has disrupted this harmony by blurring the distinction between seasons, which has led to increased unpredictability and negative consequences for nature and society.


  • India’s 1.4 billion people account for almost one-sixth of humanity.
  • It is home to 7-8% of the world’s recorded species, with more than 45,500 species of plants and 91,000 species of animals documented so far.
  • The human-to-land ratio is very low in India at 0.0021 sq km, and is continuing to recede — we must learn to survive with this serious limitation, which requires understanding and integrated management of land and water.


  • The Global Climate Risk Index 2020 prepared by Germanwatch puts India as the fifth most affected country in terms of experiencing extreme weather events, a sharp rise from its 14th position in 2017.
  • The World Bank report on the Impact of Climate Change on South Asia (2018) predicts that rising temperatures and changing monsoon rainfall patterns could cost India 2.8% of its GDP and depress the living standards of nearly half the country’s population by 2050.


  • Our worldview is shaped by our ancestors — of living in harmony and consonance with nature.
  • The ‘Prithvi Sukta’ says that the Earth is our Mother, and sacred groves tell us that the idea of protection of nature and natural resources has seeped into our way of life.
  • Gandhi’s ideals of standing up for the last man, trusteeship, and the ability of the Earth to provide enough for everyone’s needs and not anyone’s greed represents a continuous strain of thought since time immemorial.
  • The logo of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) — Nature Protects if She is Protected — shows our reverence, and respect for nature, and our focus on conserving it.


  • Our actions are shaped by science and are based on evidence and numbers. Despite having historical cumulative emissions of less than 4% (1850-2019) and 1.9 tonnes of CO2 per capita emissions, India has not dissuaded itself from taking resolute domestic and international actions that benefit the planet.
  • India has created international institutions like the International Solar Alliance (ISA) to focus on the transition to renewable energy, separated carbon emissions from economic growth, and is one of the G20 countries that are on track to meet the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) targets.

Evolution of Climate Policy in India

The Environment (Protection) Act,1986

  • The Environment (Protection) Act, of 1986 authorizes the central government to protect and improve environmental quality, control and reduce pollution from all sources, and prohibit or restrict the setting and /or operation of any industrial facility on environmental grounds. The Environment (Protection) Act was enacted in 1986 to provide for the protection and improvement of the environment.

CBDR-RC principle

  • India has been a consistently strong voice of the Global South: the CBDR-RC (Common But Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities) principle was developed largely through Indian interventions at the Rio Summit, in 1992.

The Biological Diversity Act 2002 and Biological Diversity Rules

  • The Biological Diversity Act 2002 and Biological Diversity Rules provide for the conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of its components, and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the use of biological resources and knowledge associated with it.

The Public Liability Insurance Act and Rules 1991 and Amendment, 1992

  • The Public Liability Insurance Act and Rules 1991 and Amendment, 1992 were drawn up to provide for public liability insurance to provide immediate relief to the persons affected by accident while handling any hazardous substance.

The National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) 2008

  • The National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) 2008, with eight missions, has laid the ground for understanding climate change and acting on it. Thirty-four Indian states and Union Territories have prepared State Action Plans on Climate Change (SAPCCs) consistent with the objectives of NAPCC.

National Green Tribunal Act, 2010

  • Under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to the environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected there with or incidental thereto.
  • It is a specialized body equipped with the necessary expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multidisciplinary issues. The Tribunal shall not be bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice.
  • It also accounts for providing compensation and relief to affected people for property damage.

Global institutions

  • India has reflected this confidence in building global institutions such as the ISA, the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), and the Global Biofuels Alliance (GBA).




Q.  "Discuss the determinants of climate policy in India and enumerate the evolution of climate policy of India. (250 Words)