Editorial 10 April 2024:

Editorial 10 April 2024:

Title: A distinct right: On climate change and species protection:

In recognising the right to be free of the adverse effects of climate change as a distinct fundamental right, the Supreme Court of India has advanced the case for a healthy environment and sustainable development. The apex court had long ago recognised the right to live in a clean environment as part of the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution. However, the Court has now reasoned that the right to be protected from climate change and the right to a wholesome environment are two sides of the same coin; and given the increasing threat from climate change year after year, the time has come to treat the former as a distinct right. It has explained how the vagaries of climate change have an adverse impact on life through factors ranging from rising temperatures, storms and droughts to food shortages due to crop failure and shifts in vector-borne diseases. If environmental degradation and climate change lead to acute shortage of food and water, the right to equality will also be violated, as the poorer, under-served communities will not be able to cope with the adversity. The Court’s emphasis on climate change came in a case that pitted the concern over multiple deaths of the Great Indian Bustard due to solar power transmission lines against India’s international obligation to meet its emission reduction and increase its energy capacity through non-fossil fuel sources.

The context is a conundrum peculiar to some parts of the country. The Bench was faced with a plea by three Union Ministries — Environment, Power, and New and Renewable Energy — seeking modification of the Court’s April 2021 order that sought to protect the critically endangered Great Indian Bustard from being killed in collisions with power transmission lines put up by solar energy companies in Rajasthan and Gujarat. The earlier order had directed that all low-voltage power lines in both ‘priority’ (where the bird is known to live) and ‘potential’ (where conservation efforts are going on) areas be laid underground and existing overhead lines converted to underground lines. It had also directed that high-voltage lines in identified areas be shifted below the ground. The modification was sought as conversion to underground lines was technically not possible and too expensive and the renewable energy sector was adversely affected by the order, especially because the area had considerable solar and wind energy potential. The Court has now asked an expert committee to decide on the extent of underground and overground lines and recalled its earlier orders. It is unfortunate that the goal of reducing the country’s carbon footprint and the need to protect a critically endangered species are at odds with each other. The sooner a solution is found the better.

Meaning of the word:

reasonedtypically refers to the significance or interpretation of something based on logical thinking, analysis, and understanding. It implies that the meaning has been arrived at through careful consideration, logical deduction, and rational thought processes, rather than arbitrary or emotional judgment
vagariesrefers to unpredictable or erratic changes or variations in circumstances, behavior, or events.
degradationrefers to the process of breaking down or deteriorating, often resulting in a decline in quality, value, or condition.
Adversityrefers to difficult or unfavorable circumstances, events, or conditions that one may encounter in life. It encompasses challenges, setbacks, obstacles, and hardships that individuals or groups face, often posing difficulties or obstacles to achieving their goals or maintaining well-being.
conundrumis a confusing or difficult problem or question, often one that is puzzling or perplexing and lacks an obvious solution.

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