A new lease of LIFE for climate action


Our world today is in turmoil, facing multiple, mutually reinforcing crises. Even as we mount a fragile recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, war fuels a devastating energy, food, and cost-of-living crisis. And for the first time since it began over 30 years ago, the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Report (HDR) has warned that global human development measures have declined across most countries in the past two years.

Climate change:

  • This comes against the backdrop of the greatest existential threat of all — the triple planetary crisis of climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss. Nine of the warmest years on record have come in the past decade alone. This year’s record-breaking heat waves, floods, droughts, and other extreme forms of weather have forced us to face these increasingly devastating impacts. Climate change is a disruption multiplier in a disrupted world, rolling back progress across the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • The Paris Agreement and the COP26 summit in Glasgow represent urgent, collective steps countries are taking to limit emissions. Yet, the window for action is closing fast. Commitments we have now will not keep warming below the 1.5°C target that gives us the best chance of averting catastrophe.
  • With the narrative so focused on geo-politics, there is scope for each of us to make a difference as individuals. While governments and industry carry the lion’s share of responsibility for responding to the crisis, we as consumers play a large role in driving unsustainable production methods.

LIFE, a fresh perspective

  • LIFE, or Lifestyle for Environment, announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at COP26 in November 2021, brings a fresh and much-needed perspective. Rather than framing climate change as a ‘larger than life’ challenge, LIFE recognises that small individual actions can tip the balance in the planet’s favour. But we need guiding frameworks, information sharing and the scale of a global movement.
Recently, the Union Minister of Power and New & Renewable Energy launched the Agni Tattva – Energy for LiFE campaign, to create awareness of the core concept of Agni Tattva, an element that is synonymous with energy and is amongst the five elements of Panchmahabhoot.
  • LIFE promotes an environmentally conscious lifestyle that focuses on ‘mindful and deliberate utilisation’ instead of ‘mindless and wasteful consumption. It also seeks to replace the prevalent “use-and-dispose” economy governed by mindless and destructive consumption by a circular economy, defined by conscious and deliberate consumption.
  • LIFE advocates actions such as
  1. saving energy at home
  2. cycling and using public transport instead of driving
  3. eating more plant-based foods and wasting less
  4. leveraging our position as customers and employees to demand climate-friendly choices.

Nudging for behavioural change :

Nudge theory is a concept in behavioral economics, decision making, behavioral policy, social psychology, consumer behavior, and related behavioral sciences that proposes adaptive designs of the decision environment as ways to influence the behavior and decision-making of groups or individuals.
  • Many of the goals of LIFE can be achieved by deploying ‘nudges’, gentle persuasion techniques to encourage positive behaviour. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) employs proven nudging techniques such as
  1. discouraging food waste by offering smaller plates in cafeterias
  2. encouraging recycling by making bin lids eye-catching;
  3. encouraging cycling by creating cycle paths.
  • According to the UNEP, more than two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to household consumption and lifestyles — the urgent cuts to global emissions we need can only be achieved through widespread adoption of greener consumption habits.
  • And while LIFE is a global vision, India is an excellent place to start. With over 1.3 billion people, if we achieve a true jan andolan here, the momentum generated will be enormous.

India’s track record

  • The Prime Minister and Secretary-General of UN are calling on all consumers across the world to become “Pro Planet People” by 2027, adopting simple lifestyle changes that can collectively lead to transformational change.
  • India has a proven track record translating the aspirations of national missions into whole-of-society efforts. The success of the Swachh Bharat Mission, which mobilised individuals and communities across socio-economic strata to become drivers of collective good health and sanitation is an example.
  • The LIFE mission also recognises that accountability is relative to contribution. Emissions across the poorest half of the world’s population combined still fall short of even 1% of the wealthiest. Those who consume the least, often the most vulnerable and marginalised members of society, will not be asked to consume less, but rather supported to participate in the green economy.

Onus on the developed world

  • LIFE resonates with the global climate justice India has rightfully called for — highlighting enhanced obligations those in developed countries bear, to support climate adaptation and mitigation for those most affected, yet least responsible. The average carbon footprint of a person in a high income country is more than 80 times higher than that of a person in a least developed country. It is common sense and only fair to call on the developed world to shoulder a proportionate share of this transition. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “the world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.”
At UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations on climate action, the principles of Common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR), Loss & Damage, Polluter Pays and Concept of inter-generational equity are different ways in which climate justice is demanded.
  • And there has never been a better time for India’s leadership on climate action, at home and on the international stage. From the Panchamrit targets announced by Mr. Modi at COP26, to support for the International Solar Alliance (ISA), the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) and South-South cooperation platforms, from the world’s fifth largest economy with vibrant businesses making enormous investments in renewables and electric mobility, to a world class public digital tech stack, India brings scale, expertise and legitimacy; a well-positioned founding UN Member State bridging the G20 and G77.


  • With COP27 next month, and India set to assume the G20 Presidency weeks after, followed by the halfway mark to Agenda 2030 next year, India and Indians must commit to themselves to LIFE for climate action.

Held up by the Chinese


  • Recently China placed a “hold” on two joint India-US proposals, to designate Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) top leaders including Talha Saeed, son of Hafiz Saeed and Shahid Mehmood, deputy chief of an LeT front at the United Nations Security Council’s (UNSC) 1267 list of terrorists affiliated to Al Qaeda and ISIS. China regularly blocks a listing move by India and the U.S. and shields Pakistan from global scrutiny on action taken on terrorists and terrorist supporters and funding.

About UNSC:

  • United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations (UN).
  • Mandates of UNSC:
    • Ensuring international peace and security
    • authorizing peacekeeping operations and military action
    • recommending the admission of new UN members to the General Assembly
    • approving any changes to the UN Charter
    • authorizing enacting international sanctions
  • The UNSC is the only UN body with the authority to issue binding resolutions on member states. It was founded in 1945 and is headquartered at NewYork

UNSC Resolutions:

  • A resolution adopted by all the members of the Security Council (UNSC) are formal expressions of the opinion or will of United Nations organs. They are legally binding.
  • UN Charter specifies (in Article 27) that a draft resolution on non-procedural matters is adopted if nine or more of the fifteen Council members vote for the resolution, and if it is not vetoed by any of the five permanent members.
  • Draft resolutions on “procedural matters” can be adopted on the basis of an affirmative vote by any nine Council members.
  • If the council cannot reach consensus or a passing vote on a resolution, they may choose to produce a non-binding presidential statement instead of a Resolution. These are adopted by consensus. They are meant to apply political pressure.

Major UNSC Resolutions in Global Security:

UNSC Resolution 1267 Sanctions Committee

  • This committee oversees the implementation of sanctions pursuant to UNSC resolutions 1267, 1989 and 2253.
  • It is one of the most important and active UN subsidiary bodies working on efforts to combat terrorism, particularly in relation to Al Qaeda and ISIS (Islamic State group).
  • It discusses UN efforts to limit the movement of terrorists, especially those related to travel bans, the freezing of assets and arms embargoes for terrorism.
  • Apart from AQ & ISIS, LeT, JuD and JeM are also listed under Resolution 1267.

“placing a hold” on UNSC Resolution:

  • The 1267 committee that was set up in 1999 (updated in 2011 and 2015) allows any UN member state to propose adding the name of a terrorist or terror group to a consolidated list maintained by the Committee.
  • According to the rules, once a listing is proposed, it will be adopted into the list according to a “no-objections” procedure: which means, if any member of the Committee, which comprises all members of the UN Security Council, places a hold on the listing or objects outright to it, the listing cannot be adopted. As a permanent member of the UNSC (P5), China can do this any number of times as its term doesn’t run out, and it carries a veto.
  • The Committee is bound to resolve all such pending issues within six months, but can allow extensions, meaning that technically at the end of the six-month period, the “holding” country has to decide whether to accept the listing or place a permanent objection to it. However, in practice, many of the listing proposals have had prolonged waits.

Reasons for China holding the listings:

  • Since 2001, China has placed holds on a number of listing proposals relating mainly to Pakistan-based groups and their leaders, given the close bilateral ties between the two countries. Most notable was China’s objections to the listing of JeM founder Masood Azhar. Azhar was released from prison by India in 1999 and handed over to terrorists in return for hostages onboard Indian Airlines flight IC-814.
  • While the JeM was listed at the UNSC in 2001, and Azhar was mentioned as the group’s founder, he wasn’t designated for several years. Even after the Parliament attack and the Mumbai 26/11 attacks, China kept placing a hold on the UNSC terror listing proposals for him: in 2009, 2010, 2016-18, claiming it had “inadequate information” on Masood Azhar’s terror activities. In May 2019, three months after the Pulwama attacks that were traced to the JeM, China finally withdrew its hold.
  • China objects to the listing proposals being brought by a group of countries, especially the joint proposals by India and the U.S. rather than by India alone, but has never given any comprehensive reason for the holds.

Way forward: Options for India:

  • Since the Mumbai attacks in 2008, India has tried a number of different ways to build international consensus on cross-border terrorism, and the UNSC terror listings have been one such route. While China has blocked many of the listings, there are hundreds of names of terrorists and entities in Pakistan that pose a threat to India. As a UN member state, Pakistan has an obligation under the sanctions to block access for all designated entities to funds, arms and travel outside its jurisdiction.
  • This is something India has also pursued with the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF), where Pakistan was placed on a “grey list” due to its inability to curb terror financing and money laundering in the last decade. While Pakistan is likely to be taken off that list this week, it has had to carry out several actions against terror entities on its soil, and will continue to be under scrutiny.
  • Finally, India and the U.S. have built their own separate lists of “most wanted” terrorists that document the cases against them, with a view to eventually receiving global cooperation on banning them.
  • India should also pursue its earlier goal of building international consensus at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) for the adoption of the “Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism” (CCIT).
CCIT has a universal definition of terrorism that all 193-members of the UNGA will adopt into their own criminal law. It seeks to ban all terror groups and shut down terror camps, prosecute all terrorists under special laws and make cross-border terrorism an extraditable offense worldwide.


  • Apart from the above options, India must also use lawfare- using law as a weapon of national security- in global fora to  protect its national security interests.


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