Climate change remains the missing discourse in the Indian parliament, shows study

Climate change remains the missing discourse in the Indian parliament, shows study
Representative image (BCCL)
As heatwaves sweep the European continent, the western world appears to be getting reintroduced to the perils of climate change. Yet, in other parts of the world, it remains a missing link in the mainstream political debates.
India is one of the most vulnerable nations to the cascading impacts of the climate crisis! The densely populated country continues to face one impact after another climate-related peril — droughts, heatwaves, cyclones, floods, and erratic monsoons. However, our policymakers seem oblivious to this ground reality!
A recent study highlights that the Indian parliament's deliberation on the climate crisis remains very close to being completely absent. According to a study from researchers at Azim Premji University's Center for Climate Change and Sustainability, only 0.3% of all parliamentary questions between 1999 and 2019 were related to the climate crisis. This implies that only 3 out of 1,000 questions posed by Indian parliamentarians were remotely related to climate change.
There's a silver lining! The number of questions related to climate change has been increasing over time. However, they peaked in 2015 and have not increased steadily after that. The study primarily draws attention to the absence of climate change discussion in the Indian question hour of the parliament.
For decades, the entire planet has been grappling with scorching temperatures, forest fires, increased frequency and intensity of cyclones, heavy rains and flooding, water crises, and droughts. This century, the situation is expected to only worsen as worst-case scenarios of climate change materialise much earlier than expected.
Indian parliament is the cornerstone of driving policies on climate change in the largest democracy in the world. Despite multiple catastrophes and the Indian government's ambitious climate change adaptation and mitigation goals, missing discourse on the topic in the temple of Indian democracy remains concerning.
While the discussions around the climate crisis remained abysmally low in the parliament, the study shows that 1,019 ministers asked around 895 questions on climate over a long span of 20 years. Even more surprisingly, these questions were not raised by the states most vulnerable to climate change, nor did they represent the concerns of socially vulnerable groups, shows the study.
Agriculture dominated the concerns, with the impact of climate change on agriculture (38%) and mitigation issues related to agriculture (22%) gaining the maximum traction.
According to the Global Climate Risk Index of 2019, India was among the top ten nations that experienced the most severe weather. India is swinging between socio-economic challenges like gender inequality, inflation, poverty and the growing impacts of climate change. In most of the major Indian cities, including Delhi, where the parliament functions, the heat and water shortages are becoming unbearable due to the climate crisis.
Climate change is one of the biggest challenges across the globe. India needs to gear up toward climate change to secure socio-economic instability, gender-based violence, food-water security and health security. And parliamentary questions are a crucial tool that allows elected representatives to drive issues of policy importance that affect their respective constituents.

The authors highlight the urgency to raise the level of parliamentary debate on climate change, especially in critical areas of climate justice and adaptation relevant to the Indian context. Hopefully, such studies push Indian policymakers to drive positive change towards resilient nation-building.