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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court directed the federal government to constitute an authority and allocate funds, to address the effects of climate change, within two weeks, and submit its report.

A three-judge bench, headed by Syed Justice Mansoor Ali Shah and comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Athar Minallah, on Monday, heard a petition of Public Interest Law Association of Pakistan against the federal government’s failure to form an authority and allocate funds to combat climate change.

The attorney general for Pakistan (AGP) submitted that the minister of the Climate Change Ministry has moved a summary to the prime minister for the constitution of an authority and allocation of funds, adding each province has to nominate one member for the Authority. He said that the Council on April 26 held its meeting, but no progress was made for establishing the authority.

Justice Mansoor said that the protection against climate change is the fundamental right of the citizens. He observed that in the last hearing (14th March), AGP Mansoor Usman Awan had sought some time and assured that the authority on climate change would be established in one month’s time, but still the federal government has neither constituted the authority nor allocated funds.

The advocate generals of Punjab, Sindh, and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa said that they filed the report on climate policy/strategy, while an officer of the Balochistan government submitted that they formulated climate policy which had been placed before the provincial cabinet for approval.

It is the stance of the Public Interest Law Association of Pakistan that climate change is a serious existential threat to Pakistan. Considering its critical importance, the Pakistan Climate Change Act, 2017, was promulgated on 31.03.2017 with the objective of providing comprehensive adaptation and mitigation policies, plans, programmes, projects, and other measures required to address the effects of climate change and for matters connected therewith and ancillary thereto.

The grievance was that Section 5 of the Act envisages the establishment of the Pakistan Climate Change Authority, and without the absence of such Authority, the entire Act has been rendered ineffective. It was also submitted that the Pakistan Climate Change Fund under Section 12 of the Act has also not been set up. Further, unless the Authority is established the said Fund cannot be managed under Section 13.

Pakistan’s commitment to equitable and effective global climate governance is also evident in its multifaceted approach at COP-28. The nation not only emphasized the financial aspects, calling for simplified access procedures to climate finance and expressing a preference for grant-based financing, but also actively reached a historic agreement on the operationalization of the loss and damage fund and funding arrangements.

The agreement, as agreed upon by all parties at COP28 urges developed nations to lead in financial contributions to make up for the irreversible climate change induced damages they have contributed to. This holistic commitment underscores Pakistan’s leadership in navigating the complexities of climate change and its dedication to fostering a fair and transparent global response to the urgent challenges posed by a changing climate.

Similarly, the implications of this fund’s operationalization and dynamics can be profound for climate-vulnerable countries such as Pakistan which suffer from extreme weather events. The devastation caused by the catastrophic floods in 2022 is distressing proof of the same which caused a total damage of Rs3.2 trillion (US$14.9 billion), a total loss at Rs3.3 trillion (US$15.2 billion) and total needs for recovery and reconstruction at Rs3.5 trillion (US$16.3 billion).

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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