Earth Day 2024 and the rising activism for environmental protection

The theme for Earth Day celebrated on 22nd April, 2024 was "Planet vs Plastics".The shared it's goal of 60% reduction in plastic production by 2040 by increasing research into ill-effects of plastic exposure & eliminating single-use plastics by 2030. It sought to embed this commitment within United Nations Treaty on Plastic Pollution by 2024. It also emphasised investing in innovative technologies & materials to pave way for a plastic-free world. 

Microplastics are a cause of concern for the entire world now. After knowing about the negative health impacts of plastics on living beings & Earth, people have shared their thoughts for making climate education a priority by the government & for imparting "green muscle memory"- habits, routines & attitudes young people develop to perform eco-friendly actions repetitively & consistently.

Recently, demands for taking actions against climate change have also been made through litigations. On April 9, Europe's highest human rights court sided with a group of 2000 senior Swiss women who had sued their government for violating their right to family life because it didn't do anything to protect them from the adverse effects of heatwaves. The court stated that the government couldn't protect their right to live a healthy life. The landmark ruling, which is first of it's kind by the European Court of Human rights, has paved way for future plaintiffs to sue their governments for better climate protections.

On April 6, the Supreme court of India said that people had a fundamental right to be free from adverse impacts of climate change. A three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud said that people's right to clean air or clean environment was already recognised in Indian jurisprudence & given increasing havoc being caused by climate change, it was necessary to carve out the right to be protected against its adverse effects as a distinct right in itself. The judgement came in a case in which climate change was only incidental to the arguments. The main matter pertained to the conservation of the Great Indian Bustard, an endangered bird, whose 95% population is in Indian state of Rajasthan.

There has been surge in the number of people seeking legal remedies for issues related to climate change, because governments & corporations are ignoring the matter. Cases related to climate change have been filed mostly in developed countries, with only 11 cases in India, according to the 2023 edition of the Global Climate Litigation Report. Most of these cases across the world have used rights-based framework( Right to life, Right to health, etc) to press for greater climate action. Now courts are sensitized to give favourable judgements in climate related cases. But how much of these verdicts can make significant dent in the overall threat from climate change? Share your views in the comments.

Sources: The Indian Express| The Economic Times|