Legal Practice

Effect of Climate Crisis on the Legal Profession

Effect of Climate Crisis on the Legal Profession

The changing climate conditions have given rise to a global climate crisis. Ex-President of America, Barack Obama once said, “No challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.”

Debates on climate change are dominating headlines across nations. However, we still fail to recognize its urgency. In the face of the challenges that come with climate change, what does it mean for the future of the legal sector? Let’s find out.

What is Climate Crisis?

Climate Crisis is a term describing two global issues:

  • Global Warming and
  • Climate Change

The term has been used to stress the threat of global warming to the planet. It urges us to take aggressive action to mitigate these threats. The term is used by those who recognize the gravity of the threat we face. As the planet continues to deteriorate from continued greenhouse gas emissions, the climate advocates use this term to invoke a sense of urgency amongst people.

What is Climate Change?

It basically refers to a change in the average environmental conditions. Additionally, it includes changes in temperature and rainfall. It is said to occur in a region over a long period of time. NASA Scientists from their research have concluded that the Earth’s surface is warming. Consequently, many of the warmest years on record have happened in the past 20 years.

What is Global Warming?

It refers to the ongoing rise of the average temperature of the Earth’s climate system. Scientists from their extensive research over the years have noticed the earth getting warmer. This is mainly due to human activities. There are a lot of factors that contribute to Earth’s climate. There has been an unusually rapid rise in Earth’s average surface temperature over the past century. This happens when the heat-trapping greenhouse gas levels increase in Earth’s atmosphere.

Some examples of warming temperatures and changes in precipitation include:

  • Rising sea levels
  • Shrinking mountain glaciers in Greenland, Antarctica and the Arctic
  • Changes in flower and plant blooming times.
  • Wildfire seasons last longer.
  • Coral reefs have been bleached of their colors.

Unfortunately, we’re the ones to blame for Climate Crisis. We contribute to it by our actions. We burn fossil fuels and cut down trees. Consecutively. causing average temperatures to rise worldwide. The changing climate conditions are already having dire consequences. The Earth’s surface has already warmed by about 1°C since the 19th Century. While we notice and experience these climate changes, we are on our way toward 1.5 °C. We’ll probably be there by as early as 2030.

Impact of climate crisis on legal profession

Okay, so we’ve given you a fair idea of what climate crisis is all about. Now, let us understand how it may impact the legal sector. United Nations (UN) conducts a Climate Change Conference yearly. It is held in the framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Hocking statistics have come to light in the conference held recently. The nations across the globe are feeling the pressure to take action to prevent a climate crisis. If we fail to take action, by 2030, people everywhere will witness global environmental devastation. Ultimately, there will be an increase in global poverty, famine, and so forth. It will impact every nation, regardless of the borders between them. The threats of Climate-Related Poverty will have dire consequences for the legal sector.

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We know that individuals can sue and claim damages if any company harms their health. However, the question arises, how far can an individual sue against their own nation for harming their health? The global response to climate change is poor. The legal sector must be concerned with the bigger picture than only worrying about staying gainfully employed.

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A better future depends on the ability of various sectors coming together and doing their parts. The member of the legal sector must immediate action to tackle the climate crisis. Lawyers must handle it in a fair, impartial, and legally valid manner.

A Lawyer’s Role in Climate Change

Lawyers across the globe must be urged to engage in pro bono activities. These activities must aid efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change. The lawyers should advise their clients of the risks and opportunities that climate change provides. A lawyer must understand that climate change has become a justice issue. Also, it is no longer a hypothetical problem for the distant future. Lawyers have a duty to advise on matters such as International rules on emissions cuts and Climate change finance. These issues will have a huge impact on the lives of billions of people for decades to come.

Laws to Prevent Climate Crisis in India

As we know, Global Warming leads to extreme weather change. International forums have suggested various measures and strategies that can counteract climate issues in countries across the globe. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sets the rules for mitigation. The first major effort by them was when the Kyoto Protocol was introduced. It was introduced to reduce the sources or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases.

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Major Climate Laws

2008 – National Action Plan on Climate Change

It outlines 8 national missions. They include:

  • Solar
  • Energy efficiency
  • Sustainable Habitat
  • Green India (REDD & LULUCF)
  • Water
  • Himalaya Ecosystems
  • Agriculture
  • Strategic Knowledge of Climate Change.
2012 – National Electricity Plan

It aims to keep CO2 intensity declining. Further, it hopes to massively expand rural access and

2010- Post-Copenhagen Domestic Actions

India has announced a levy in the form of a clean energy cess on coal. A rate of Rs. 50 (US$1) will be applicable per tonne.

2006- Tariff Policy

The Electricity Act 2003 and the National Tariff Policy 2006 highlights renewable energy sources. Moreover, it states that central and state electricity regulatory commissions must purchase a certain percentage of grid‐based power from renewable sources.

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Whether you are a farmer in India or a resident in the US, climate change will have an impact on your life. That’s why lawyers around the world must deal with a desperate challenge by joining the world-wide struggle of the climate crisis. Additionally, the legal sector cannot sit idly by as the world burns. We cannot wish this problem away. People must be held accountable, changes must be made and measures must be taken.

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by Kavitha Iyer

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