The Delhi High Court has appreciated steps taken to implement the climate change commitments made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the Court was told the government has approved India's updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement.

"This Court really appreciates the sincere efforts made on the part of the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change, Government of India as well as other Ministries for ensuring implementation of the steps in respect of climate change and for providing a better environment for the generations to come"; the Court observed in its Judgment.

Advocate Akshay Ravi appeared for the Petitioner while Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma appeared for the Union of India.

The government also informed the Court on August 4 the updated NDC will be communicated to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

NDC encompasses national plans and pledges made by a country to meet the goal of maintaining global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial levels, while aiming for 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

The status report makes it very clear that the Union of India is proceeding ahead at a war footing in implementing the Nationally Determined Contribution and the union cabinet chaired by the prime minister has approved India's updated NDC to be communicated to the UNFCCC, a Division Bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad said.

The Union Cabinet had on August 3 approved India's updated NDC, incorporating two of the promises made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Glasgow conference -- reducing emissions intensity of GDP by 45 per cent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels, and achieving about 50 per cent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by that year.

The Court was informed about the development during the hearing of a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking constitution of an expert committee for the realisation of the promises made by India at the UNFCCC.

The Bench noted the steps mentioned in the government's status report make it very clear that India has taken a lead role in the matter as the prime minister at COP-26 proposed a one-word movement to the global community, LIFE, that is, Lifestyle for Environment, and all efforts are being made in the country for cleaner energy for the period 2021-30.

Various incentive schemes have been approved for providing concession and incentives for production or manufacturing and adoption of renewable energy and all possible steps have been initiated to implement the climate change commitments made by the prime minister in the country, it noted.

After taking into account the status report and other developments, the petitioner's counsel submitted that no further orders are required to be passed keeping in view the steps taken by the MoEF&CC and prayed for withdrawal of the petition.

The High Court then disposed of the petition by lawyer Rohit Madan as withdrawn.

According to the updated NDC, India now stands committed to reducing emissions intensity of its GDP by 45 per cent by 2030 from the 2005 level, and achieving about 50 per cent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030.

The petitioner had asserted that it was the Indian government's duty to honour its international commitments.

The petitioner said like several other countries, India made certain commitments during the 2021 UNFCCC in Glasgow also known as COP26, which included reaching 500GW non-fossil capacity by 2030, fulfilling 50 per cent of energy requirements from renewable sources by 2030, etc and the same must be fulfilled.

"These commitments were made before a formal international forum of which India is also a member and a signatory. These commitments involve a shift to renewable and green energy from current coal-based energy. All businesses in India will have to adjust their practices, and make necessary changes anticipating the shift. The State is bound by the promises it made and must deliver on the same," the petition said.

The updated NDC will be implemented over the 2021-2030 period through programmes and schemes of relevant ministries and departments and with the support from states and union territories.

At the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) of the UNFCCC last November, Modi had announced that India's non-fossil energy capacity will reach 500 gigawatt by 2030.

Cause Title: Rohit Madan v. Union of India & Ors.

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With PTI inputs