The world is fast changing and the new generation all over the world is growing ever more aware of its rights as well as responsibilities. Its recent proof is 9-year-old Ridhima Pandey, who has filed a lawsuit against the Indian Government over failure to take ambitious climate action. It is not the first time that a child has filed a case against its government over a lack of climate change action, but the first time that an Indian child has come forward to do so. We were glad when we heard that a group of youth in the US, between 9 and 20, have filed a lawsuit saying that the Government is hurting the environment and promoting fossil fuel production. Similarly, lawsuits against governments in Belgium and New Zealand are already being carried out by young boys and girls. It is especially heartening to know that lawsuits in Pakistan, Austria, and South Africa have been won and now Ridhima has come forward to make the Indian Government realize that it is not doing the needful to save the environment.
All Ridhima wants is that the Indian Government should save the environment for future generations. So, she filed a petition against the government accusing it of having failed to fulfill its duties to her and to the Indian people to stop climate change. Her petition says that India, which is the world’s third biggest carbon emitter, has utterly failed in putting into action the Paris Agreement on climate change. In the petition, which has been filed in the National Green Tribunal (a specialized court established in 2010 for hearing environmental cases only), Pandey has asked the court to order the government to prepare a carbon budget and a national climate recovery plan. The petition has been filed on her behalf by Environmental attorney Rahul Choudhary who is representing her along with Ritwick Dutta and Meera Gopal. India’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and the Central Pollution Control Board have been asked to respond within two weeks. Ridhima wants India to do its share to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide, which should be below 350 parts per million according to environmental recommendations. Her petition also asks the government to discourage fossil fuels, to protect forests, grasslands, soil, and mangroves, to engage in massive reforestation and improve agricultural and forestry practices as well.
Wondering who this brave nine-year-old child is? Ridhima lives in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, which has been devastated in the past 3 years by massive landslides, unusually heavy rains, and frequent flash floods. These rainfalls and flash floods have become all the more frequent after the massive climate disaster that occurred in 2013. Tens of thousands have lost their lives in Uttarakhand so far and the poorest people are suffering the most. Ridhima’s lawyer says that she is a very “compassionate child” and has inherited her passion for climate change campaigning from her father, Dinesh Pandey. Her father, who has been working for 16 years for an environmental NGO in Uttarakhand says that he has raised his daughter by teaching her about environmental issues and is very proud of her.
We hope that Ridhima becomes an example for others to join the global campaign to save the planet for future generations.