Looking Out, Looking In: How India can Respond to a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism on the Principles of Justice and Equity in the Net-Zero Transition
Master of Laws
The net-zero transition is a curious term. It is multi-dimensional. It must be inclusive, equitable, and just—considering the different realities of various economies and various pathways to achieving net-zero. One of the merits of global climate action since the Paris Agreement in 2015 has been its attempt to balance climate change justice with inter-generational justice and environmental justice. But as evidenced from the international momentum brewing in a post-Paris world leading up to Glasgow, the problems of justice are not abated with a net-zero transition — they are indeed being rendered more poignant by it. While it is just to argue that the urgency of climate change can be considered vast enough to accelerate the global energy transition regardless of ideological differences, it is a textbook answer — the problems of justice, fairness, and equity cannot be ignored when rubber hits the road. How does then one draw a ‘line’ between this justice and that justice? Today, one throws around concerns of “just sustainability” only in the context of a post-development era and agenda. Addressing this struggle requires us to understand the perspectives of the developing countries viewing capitalism as the driver of a nation’s development and balancing their goals to eradicate poverty, provide all citizens access to electricity, basic healthcare, infrastructure, food and livelihood — with their duties to adopt policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by businesses extracting fossil fuels, clearing forests, and engaging in other activities that contribute to global warming. All the talk and action concerning the possible new global economic order after the announcement of the European Union’s proposal on the ‘Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism’ has only implicitly rekindled this anxiety around global justice in global economic change policies on climate change. Carbon border adjustments are becoming an increasingly important topic owing to growing concerns on greenhouse gas emissions, particularly in energy intensive industries like cement and steel — areas that are particularly hard to decarbonize without requisite technological advancement and are also the essential elements to an economy’s development aspirations.
This essay will explore the ramifications of the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism proposal on the developing country of India and its individualized pathways to achieving their commitments under the Paris Agreement. At one end of the spectrum, we will analyze this global trade-restrictive environmental measure against the expansive notions of fairness and climate justice in international responses to climate change that were committed by the developed world under the Paris Agreement, which specifically recognizes that the parties may be affected not only by the impacts of climate change but also by the impacts of the measures taken in response to it. At the other end, we will address the question of whether political ideologies in India can still use their international law “right to develop” as an excuse from imposing similar environmental and other restrictions that developed countries observe. Would sacrificing climate change goals for development quickly become a bad trade-off for India if failure to reduce emissions leads to dire consequences?
Environmental Law | European Law | Law
Srivastava, Paridhi, "Looking Out, Looking In: How India can Respond to a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism on the Principles of Justice and Equity in the Net-Zero Transition" (2022). LL.M. Essays & Theses. 11.