ISLAMABAD: Senate passed the Pakistan Climate Change Act during Friday’s session, paving the way for Pakistan to strengthen its ability to mitigate the impact of climate change on various socioeconomic sectors, particularly agriculture, water and health.

Climate Change Minister Zahid Hamid introduced the legislation in Senate. The National Assembly has already approved the act.

Mr Hamid, who wrote the legislation, said the act was made to “tackle the pressing climate risks and secure global funding to implement projects to boost the country’s climate resilience, protect lives and livelihoods of the people, mainly those associated with agriculture”.

During the debate in the upper house, the opposition praised the promulgation of the act and acknowledged its significance. Senators Sherry Rehman and Azam Swati called the act the need of the hour.

Mr Hamid said that, as proposed in the act, the establishment of the Pakistan Climate Change Council will be expedited and the council will be chaired by the prime minister.

Council, authority to be formed to implement policies on global warming impact

The council will include chief ministers and ministers who hold environment and climate change portfolios of all the provinces and the three administrative units: Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Kashmir and Fata, Mr Hamid said.

“The advisory body will consist of 30 other members, 20 of them from NGOs, researchers, scientists, technical experts and educations concerned with climate change,” he added.

The minister said a climate change authority will also be set up, as proposed in the act, which will play a role in implementing climate change policy through consultations and understandings with all the federating units.

During a meeting of a Senate standing committee three days ago, Mr Hamid said the adverse effects of climate change were a greater threat than terrorism.

He said Pakistan is already suffering the impact of climate change in the form of floods, droughts, desertification, glacial melting in the north and sea water intrusion in the south.

He said extreme climate events have resulted in the loss of lives and colossal damage to the economy.

The minister claimed the irregular phenomena have impeded efforts to promote sustainable growth and development and ensure economic prosperity.

He emphasised the need for an independent climate change authority which, under the guidance of the council on climate change, will provide a framework to mitigate and adapt to the effects of global warming on various sectors of the economy.

Pakistan is the seventh most vulnerable country to climate change, and contributes less than 1pc to climate altering global emissions.

With the passage of the act, it has joined a handful of countries to enact legislation specifically to combat the impact of climate change, Mr Hamid said. The act now requires presidential assent before it can become law.

Published in Dawn, March 18th, 2017


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