The plaintiff filed a public interest action challenging the Federal Government of Pakistan and Regional Government of Punjab for their inaction, delay, and lack of seriousness in addressing climate change. The government passed the National Climate Change Policy 2012 and the Framework for Implementation of Climate Change Policy (2014-2030). However, the plaintiff argued that the government’s lack of implementation violated his Article 9 constitutional right to life and Article 14 right to a healthy and clean environment and to human dignity, since climate change presents serious threats to water, food, and energy security in Pakistan. The Court found that the defendants took no measures to implement their policies. The Court ordered twenty ministries, departments, and authorities to name climate change focal points to work with the Ministry of Climate Change to implement the Framework and assist the Court in the instant petition. Those institutions were to create a list of achievable adaptation points. Further, the Court ordered the government to create a Climate Change Commission consisting of the aforementioned focal points, NGO representatives, and technical experts, among others.
Environmental Legal Questions:
- Did the government take measures to implement their climate change policies? The defendant submitted that under the Framework there are 734 action points, of which 232 are action points of priority. The Court found the submissions of several relevant ministries and commissions to not have satisfactorily showed these adaptation measures.
- Did the government’s inaction offend the fundamental rights of the plaintiff? The Court found that the state’s delay and lethargy in implementing the Framework offends the fundamental rights of citizens that need to be safeguarded. Within the Pakistani legal and constitutional context, the Court found climate change to be a “clarion call for the protection of fundamental rights of the citizens of Pakistan, in particular, the vulnerable and weak segments of society who are unable to approach the Court.” Furthermore, the Court recognized climate change as a global problem, whereby Pakistan is a victim due to its relatively low-level contribution to global warming but required immediate remediate adaptation measures to cope with disruptive climatic patterns.