Centre-provinces tussle eclipses climate change policy

ISLAMABAD - While the climate change has become an issue of top priority even in developing countries, the case in Pakistan is different as it has failed to ensure implementation of its first-ever climate change policy on account of sheer negligence of the governments.
A source in the Ministry of Climate Change told this scribe that the first National Climate Change Policy was approved in September 2012, but it could not be implemented owing to ignorance on part of that government and dispute between the federal and provincial governments over the policy.
He said no meeting was arranged between the Centre and the provinces over the issue of implementation of the policy since the incumbent government took over.
The ministry contacted the provinces in 2014 last time, but could not get positive response, the source said and added the Ministry of Climate Change was declared a division under the 18th Constitutional Amendment and devolved to the provinces. The government inducted Senator Mushahidullah in the cabinet and allocated him the Climate Change Division on January 8, 2015.
A senior official said the Climate Change Division was working under the Cabinet Division and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif did not call a single meeting to implement the policy and reduce the rift between the provinces and the federal government.
He said even the provinces had assured the Centre of supporting the proposed measures. He pointed out the government appointed different federal secretaries to head this division, but they also ignored its goals. He asserted just political will was required for implantation of the policy.
Talking to The Nation, Minister Senator Mushahidullah Khan said the implantation of the climate change policy was his top priority and he would review the policy and fine-tune it further.
The minister said the climate change was a serious issue and he would try to bring the provinces on table for resolving the issues. “The Climate Change Division is ready to cooperate with the provinces on every problem and provide the required support,” he added.
Former Met director general and a member of policy committee, Qamar Zaman Chaudhry, told The Nation that he could not understand why the government did not work on the policy implementation.
He said the government posted such bureaucrats to head the division as were unaware even of the issue of the climate change and did not take steps to implement the policy or to take the provinces on board. He averred Pakistan was spending seven percent on hydro and solar power as well as disaster management projects.
The main objectives of the policy are pursuing sustained economic growth by appropriately addressing the challenges of climate change, strengthening inter-ministerial decision making and coordination mechanisms on climate change, ensuring water, food and energy security of the country in the face of the challenges posed by it, minimising the risk caused by the expected increase in frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as floods, droughts and tropical storms, integrating the climate change policy with other inter-related national policies, facilitating effective use of finances, promoting conversion of natural resources and long-term sustainability and enhancing awareness, skills and institutional capacity of relevant stakeholders.
Sajjad Ahmad, the director general for environment at the ministry of climate change, has said that the ministry has started a programme that will enable the government of Pakistan to prepare its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) in the coming months.
That programme is being coordinated by LEAD-Pakistan, along with the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN) and the Pakistan Centre for Climate Research and Development (CCRD), the director general explained.
The LEAD-Pakistan and other associates gave a presentation on the plan and outcome on Monday in the committee room of the ministry.
Sajjad Ahmad said that efforts are currently under way to reduce greenhouse emissions at the global level and respond to climate risks to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of global warming, and adapt to changes, Pakistan is already facing.
The international political response to climate change began with the adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992. The response has progressed from the Kyoto Protocol to a vision of an agreement that recognizes actions from all countries to keep temperature changes at safe levels. The new agreement is set to be adopted in 2015 at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP) in Paris at the end of this year. As part of the preparation for this agreement, countries have been invited to submit Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) in advance of the COP.

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