Ridhima Pandey v. Union of India: The Onset of Climate Change Litigation in India


While much of public awareness on climate change has grown due to newspaper headlines. magazine cover stories or movies like The Inconvenient Truth, one cannot help but accept that a part of it can be attributed to climate change advocates who are rigorously pursuing climate change matters before courts worldwide.

Deliberations at international level on climate change policy, in initial years, focused on the global impact of clin1ate change such as the rise in average global temperature and sea level etc. However, with the growing instances of climate litigation, the focus has now shifted to more localized issues attributable to climate change. This may span from injury to a particular species, to potential impact of climate change on a particular industry. ilhe most common form of climate change litigation that has been seen in the past is when the civil society or group of individuals has challenged the State’s inaction or failure to meet its obligations under international instruments regulating climate change. The last two decades have seen a steep rise in the number of climate change lawsuits worldwide. Though we are still in the early days of global warming litigation, these lawsuits have made significant impact on legal and political climate of some nations. A study conducted by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and Columbia University's Sabin Center for Climate Change Law shows that the number of climate change cases have tripled since the year 2014 and the maximum number of such lawsuits have been filed in the United Statesl. However, this seems to have had little or no impact on India.

In the very first case of its kind in India, Ridhima Pandey, a 9—year-old girl has moved the National Green Tribunal alleging inaction on the part of the Government to take measures for climate change adoption and mitigation. This paper is an attempt to assess the contribution of the case in laying down the foundation of climate change litigation in India.