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Supreme Court Pushes for Climate Change Action: Evaluating Pakistan’s Efforts and Policy Gaps

Supreme Court Demands Action Plans on Climate Change from Government Bodies

In a significant development aimed at addressing climate change in Pakistan, the Supreme Court has mandated a comprehensive report from the country’s leading climate authority and the chief secretaries from all provinces detailing measures undertaken to combat the escalating challenge of climate change.

During a session on July 1, 2024, chaired by Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah along with justices Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Shahid Bilal Hassan, the apex court critically evaluated the ongoing efforts against climate change. The evaluation stemmed from a petition filed by the Public Interest Law Association of Pakistan, urging a more affinitive approach towards climate resilience.

The court’s panel expressed their dissatisfaction over the apparent lack of a succinct policy or tangible action against the impacts of climate change from both the federal and provincial governments. This observation came despite previous assurances from the climate change ministry, which highlighted ongoing efforts like the advertisement of key positions under the Climate Change Act, aiming to invigorate the climate action framework within the country.

The coordinators and secretaries were reminded of their pivotal roles in not just formulating but also executing policies that preemptively address climate challenges rather than adopting a reactionary stance through disaster management strategies primarily handled by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Provincial Disaster Management Authorities (PDMA).

The court underscored the critical need for a well-defined climate change policy clasped with actionable strategies to mitigate the impending threats of climate change. It sought to clarify the confusion over the roles of NDMA and PDMA, emphasizing that while disaster management is crucial, preemptive action led by the Ministry of Climate Change is indispensable.

Dissatisfaction was also voiced regarding the report submissions from the chief secretaries of Punjab, Sindh, KPK, and Balochistan. The reports were deemed insufficient in outlining actionable or strategic plans to confront climate challenges. Additionally, the court pointed out the absence of a dedicated climate change budget or fund within the provincial allocations, notwithstanding Punjab’s initiative to secure a $50 million loan through the Asian Development Bank to establish a Climate Change Fund.

In its directive, the court ordered not only the primary stakeholders, including Roomina Khursheed Alam, the Coordinator to the Prime Minister on Climate Choose, and the Ministry of Climate Change, but also each provincial chief secretary to furnish a detailed strategy. The document must delineate the specific threats of climate change unique to each province and the measures adopted or planned to mitigate these impacts. This detailed plan is to be presented in the next hearing, underscoring the urgency and importance the apex court places on concrete and immediate climate action.

This move by the Supreme Court sets a precedent for a more aggressive approach towards climate policy and action in Pakistan. It not only demonstrates the judicial system’s recognition of the pressing issue of climate change but also mandates accountability and action from the governmental bodies responsible for safeguarding the environment and the people from the adverse effects of global warming.

The directive from the Supreme Court is a clarion call to all sectors of the government to prioritize climate change as a critical agenda, ensuring that strategic, actionable, and tangible plans are not just formulated but also executed with the urgency and seriousness they warrant.

Ethan Wilder

Ethan Wilder is a conservation photographer and videographer whose lens captures the awe-inspiring beauty of the natural world and the critical challenges it faces. With a focus on wilderness preservation and animal rights, Ethan's work is a poignant reminder of what is at stake. His photo essays and narratives delve into the heart of environmental issues, combining stunning visuals with compelling storytelling. Ethan offers a unique perspective on the role of art in activism, inviting readers to witness the planet's wonders and advocating for their protection.

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