US court signals red for green action

The US Supreme Court has limited the US Environmental Protection Agency‘s (EPA) ability to frame broad economy-wide regulations. Unelected EPA officials will no longer have the mandate to frame rules that have major economic impact.

In doing so, the court could limit efforts by other agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to tackle greenhouse gas emissions. This has important repercussions for the global effort to tackle climate change, since the US is the biggest historical emitter of greenhouse gas and its second-biggest annual contributor.

This turn of events must not be viewed by countries such as India as an opportunity to slacken its pace of climate action. Rather, India must step up its transition to a low-carbon, low-pollution development pathway. Not only does the transition provide new opportunities such as jobs and investment, but also for innovation and wealth creation.

A clean, low-waste, efficient approach to resources, together with India’s advantage of scale and human capital with its capacity for innovation, will help position India as an important player in the new global economy. India must work with its partners in developing and developed countries to keep the pressure on high-emitters like the US.

Perhaps in anticipation, Joe Biden made innovation and investment the centrepiece of his climate agenda. More investment in climate-resilient infrastructure and clean energy – more jobs, opportunities and innovation would mean ownership of the technologies of the future – making the economic case for climate action. For India, slowing down its climate efforts will mean losing an opportunity to grow its economy.


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