Climate in focus

Published March 18, 2024

IN a welcome order by the Supreme Court, the new government has been tasked with providing a report on actions taken against climate challenges. The development merits a critical examination of Pakistan’s climate policy and preparedness for unforeseen climate events. The catastrophic floods of 2022, which inflicted damage upwards of Rs3.2tr, are a stark reminder of our precarious position as the world’s fifth most climate-vulnerable country. Our situation was exacerbated by recent extreme weather claiming dozens of lives. The unimplemented mandates of the Pakistan Climate Change Act, 2017, such as the establishment of the Pakistan Climate Change Authority and the Climate Change Fund, point to a critical gap in our climate governance. These entities are not mere bureaucratic additions but essential frameworks for climate action and resilience building. Their absence signifies a systemic failure to address climate concerns proactively. Equally important is the court’s emphasis on securing the Loss and Damage Fund, which offers hope to rebuild after large-scale climate devastation. While global financial support is crucial, it is essential for Pakistan to get its house in order. Dependency on external aid without robust internal mechanisms and planning is a precarious position. The fund, though significant, is a piece of the larger puzzle of climate resilience and adaptation that requires domestic readiness and foresight.

The government must respond to the SC’s request with a comprehensive report that not only outlines past initiatives but also charts a clear, actionable path forward. This report should detail steps towards establishing the Climate Change Authority, operationalising the Climate Change Fund, and enhancing local capacities for disaster risk management and climate adaptation. It should also articulate strategies for leveraging international climate finance, including the Loss and Damage Fund, effectively and transparently. Establishing the mandated climate bodies would be a significant step in aligning national efforts with global climate goals, ensuring that Pakistan is not only a beneficiary of international support but also a proactive participant in global climate governance. The court’s order is a call to action for the government to prioritise climate change not just as an environmental issue but also as a critical determinant of the nation’s security and prosperity. The report must not only satisfy judicial inquiry but also serve as a blueprint for a resilient, sustainable future for Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, March 18th, 2024

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