Pakistan court orders government to enforce climate law

Islamabad, Sep 25 (IANS) A Pakistan court has ordered the government to enforce its own climate change policy and establish a commission to oversee the process, the media reported on Friday.

An individual farmer, Asghar Leghari, brought a public interest litigation case against the government in the Lahore High Court on August 31, Dawn online reported.

Leghari, who relies on agriculture for a living, argued that the government had not taken steps to develop the required resilience to climate change as set out in the 2012 National Climate Policy and Framework.

Quoting from the policy, the farmer stated that climate change threats have led to “major survival concerns for Pakistan, particularly in relation to the country’s water security, food security and energy security”.

Judge Syed Mansoor Ali Shah noted that climate change “appears the most serious threat faced by Pakistan” and ordered representatives from government ministries and departments to appear before the court and explain what progress has been made under the framework to meet the challenges.

Government representatives have told the court that 734 action points had to be addressed by various interested parties. Of these, 232 must be completed by 2016.

Invoking fundamental rights and constitutional duties, the judge called for existing environmental jurisprudence to be fashioned to meet the more urgent and overpowering needs of climate change. He also became the first judge to recognise the principle of “climate change justice”.

The judge ordered the establishment of a Climate Change Commission to monitor its effective implementation.

Under the judge’s instructions, the commission will be chaired by eminent jurist and environmental lawyer Parvez Hassan and comprise representatives of the government, international environmental non-governmental organisations, environmental lawyer Saima Khawaja and counsel for Asghar Leghari.

The court adjourned the matter until October 5.

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