Provinces Refuse to Share Powers With Climate Change Division

Apr 13th, 2014 | By | Category: Health and Climate Change, Pakistan

All the four provinces have refused to share their powers with the Climate Change Division and are insisting on formulating their own strategies to deal with the challenge of climate change in their respective areas. Two legislation bills, Climate Change and Bio-safety Act, formulated by the Climate Change Division in December last year hit a snag after opposition of provinces. Following the 18th Amendment during the previous PPP-led coalition government, the Ministry of Climate Change was devolved to provinces.

Presently, the Climate Change Division at the federal level is running its functions under the Environmental Protection Act 1997 that needs to be amended for a broader scope and role of the division, a senior official of the ministry told Business Recorder on Friday.

The Climate Change Division formulated two bills in December last year and dispatched them to chief secretaries of all the four provinces to get their viewpoints and consent.

“The climate change is no more a federal subject; therefore a legislation at the federal level can only be done after getting consensus from provinces,” he said.

The official warned that if the needed legislation is not done, Pakistan would not be able to deal with the challenge of climate change. At the moment, Pakistan is considered a country hit hard by the effects of climate change.

According to the 2006 Pakistan Strategic Country Environmental Assessment Report, the annual cost of environmental degradation in the country has been estimated at Rs365 billion.

Problems like sanitation, inadequate water supply and hygiene account for Rs112 billion, agriculture soil degradation for Rs70 billion and range land degradation and deforestation Rs6 billion.

The official said scope and authority of the Climate Change Division is limited to federal areas only while all international protocols and conventions come under the purview of the federal government.

“The Climate Change Division has been made impotent in the 18th Amendment and it has become difficult at the federal level to take care of the international treaties,” he said.

Citing National Economy and Environment Development Study 2011, the official said Pakistan needs around $6 billion to $14 billion for climate change adaptation measures while mitigation efforts would cost around $7 billion to $18 billion from now to 2050. He said provinces alone would not be able to deal with the challenge and generate such a huge funding for adaptation and mitigation measures.

On the other hand, purview of the Climate Change Division is limited to the federal capital and it remains environment specific, he said. The official said under the present circumstances, the division cannot even initiate climate change related projects with the international organisations working on the subject.

The government transformed the climate change ministry into a division and its funds were also slashed by 60 percent in the 2013-14 budget. The government allocated Rs58.8 million to combat climate change in the Public Sector Development Programme for 2013-14 as compared to Rs168.1 million allocated to the climate change ministry in 2012-13.

Secretary Climate Change Division Raja Hassan Abbas told Business Recorder that consultation with provinces on the proposed bills is still ongoing “but it is taking too long.” He said his division can only initiate proposals for submission to the federal government and provinces on different subjects and issues and it is doing its job well.

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