Environmental and Energy Laws- Brief Analysis
Updated: Jan 20
Two spheres of law have an intersection in the society as the environment derives its power through energy, and the main source of energy is the environment itself. Renewable and non-renewable energy sources are abundant in the environment run industries, households, companies, institutions, and organizations, etc. Batteries and generators operate on power which comes from the natural elements. Indeed, the environment has gifted everyone in abundance, but nature got nothing in return, except pollution, degradation, and exploitation.
There are certain norms and standards to be kept in mind and to be followed, to attain a balance among environment, energy utilization for economic development, and ecology.
Principle of Prudent, Rational and Sustainable Use of Natural Resources- This states that there should be judicious use of natural resources, and the interaction with the environment should be only for a limited time for rejuvenation. All the agreements and resolutions recognize that there are limits on the utilization of land, water and ocean, and natural resources if irreversible damage is to be avoided.
Principle of Protection of Environment, Human Health, and Combating Climate Change- Energy sector is the foremost contributor to carbon dioxide, due to the use of coal as fuel, which has resulted in climate change and is a threat to humans. It is the responsibility of every person to try and save nature for the benefit to self and future generations.
Polluter Pays Principle- Established in Indian Council for Enviro-Legal Action vs. Union of India, it states that one who is indulged in any dangerous activity putting the environment at stake in such a way that a grave loss is suffered by any biotic or abiotic creature, that one is responsible to compensate or pay for the damage.
Precautionary Principle- As the phrase suggests, this principle is based on the fact that people and Centre and State governments need to anticipate, prevent and attack the cause due to which the environment is getting damaged and the process of mitigation shall not be stopped due to any scientific reasons. This was laid in the case, Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum vs. Union of India and Ors.
The irrational use of energy resources like coal, sulfur, etc. results in multiple reactions with other gases and turns the environment poisonous. There is a certain extent to which the atmosphere can be pure and safe but when the limit is crossed it is harmful to inhale the dangerous particles in the air. Further, due to emissions from industries and vehicles, urbanization, and deforestation, the temperature of the earth has risen as the particles in air reflect the rays of the sun. This can be called the greenhouse effect. Greenhouse gases occur naturally and are essential for the survival of humans and millions of other living beings, by keeping some of the sun’s warmth from reflecting into space and making Earth liveable.
It has a long-lasting effect globally like global warming, droughts, melting ice caps, an increase in sea level, acidity, and salinity of water bodies, declining marine life (coral reef), ozone layer depletion, etc. The average temperature of the earth has increased by 2 degrees Celsius. This global warming has to be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius which can only be possible through a transition in the land, energy, industry, buildings, and transport.
International Treaties Regarding The Environment Protection
The only way to protect our environment for/from ourselves is to cut down the amount of emission of carbon dioxide. Every nation has to control its energy consumption to save the environment from getting consumed.
Talking about treaties and laws regarding environment and energy, they are as follows:
VIENNA CONVENTION (1985): This convention was for the protection of Ozone Layer by international reductions in the production and use of chlorofluorocarbons which is the main source of depletion of O3.
MONTREAL PROTOCOL (1987): It is a global agreement to protect the stratospheric ozone layer by phasing out the production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances (ODS).
UNITED NATIONS FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE (1994): The objective is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.
KYOTO PROTOCOL (1997): Linked to UNFCCC, it was adopted to prohibit the industrialized nations to limit their carbon dioxide emissions and GHGs, which poses a continuous threat to all lives on the planet.
PARIS AGREEMENT (2015): Associated with UNFCCC, this agreement aims to avoid climate change by limiting global warming and encourage the nations to deal with this grave issue.
Laws like Environment Protection Act, 1986, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, 1972, Energy Policy Act, 2005, etc. are some which provide a legal solution to the interface of energy and environment. Industries are also encouraged to switch to renewable energies such as solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, biogas energies rather than fossil fuels.
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Divya Issarani is currently pursuing Law at HNLU, Raipur
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Edited By : Swathi. Ashok. Nair.
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