On April 15, 2021, The Supreme Court of Pakistan upheld a Notification by the Provincial government of Punjab barring the construction of new cement plants or the expansion of existing cement plants in environmentally fragile zones called "Negative Areas." A cement company owner challenged the Notification on the grounds that it violated their constitutional right to freedom of trade, business, and profession under Article 18 of the Constitution, and that the government acted in undue haste by issuing the regulation without full consideration of scientific impacts. The Supreme Court rejected the challenges and upheld as proper the government's consideration, based on a consultant report, that new or expanded cement plans could cause further depletion of groundwater and other harmful environmental impacts. As part of its consideration, the Court emphasized the need to for the government to uphold the precautionary principle in protecting the rights to life, sustainability, and dignity of communities surrounding the project areas. In addition, the Court recognized the need to protect the right of nature itself, writing, "[m]an and his environment each need to compromise for the better of both and this peaceful co-existence requires that the law treats environmental objects as holders of legal rights."
The Court went on to emphasize the need for consideration of climate change in government decisions and the impact of climate change on water resources. The Court wrote, "[o]nly by devising and implementing appropriate adaptation measures will it be possible to ensure water, food and energy security for the country . . . The Notification, in the current facts of the case, is a climate resilient measure and in step with the National Climate Change Policy and the Constitution."
Further, the Court emphasized the need to consider intergenerational justice in climate cases like this one: "This Court and the Courts around the globe have a role to play in reducing the effects of climate change for our generation and for the generations to come. Through our pen and jurisprudential fiat, we need to decolonize our future generations from the wrath of climate change, by upholding climate justice at all times."
|04/15/2021||Judgment||Download||No summary available.|