Parliament in Favor of Continued Discussions on Climate Change

By Nyein Nyein 22 February 2016

Lower House parliamentarians will discuss an urgent proposal on climate change this week, with some lawmakers urging the government to take preventative measures to address socioeconomic problems potentially caused by the weather pattern El Niño.

A proposal for the discussion was raised in Monday’s session by Dr. Maung Thin of Mandalay Division’s Meiktila constituency. He explained that Burma’s public could face more natural disasters, such as forest fires, drought, flooding as well as agricultural and health problems this year, in keeping with meteorological warnings.

“The collaboration between current government ministries and non-governmental organizations is needed to tackle current and future problems,” he told the assembly.

The proposal received the support of 391 votes—well over the two-thirds of votes needed to move forward with the discussion. Nine MPs voted against the proposal and 18 abstained from voting.

MPs who supported a continued discussion on the matter warned of a water shortage during Burma’s summer, March to May, after El Niño passes its peak period this month.

The country’s Ministry of Health also warned of the higher temperatures in a public announcement last week.

Thein Tun, of Irrawaddy Division’s Kyaung Kone constituency, advocated for the proposal, saying that Burma should learn from lessons of past El Niño experiences. Quoting archive figures, he cited a period from 1997-98 in which 18 towns across the country experienced unusually high temperatures while the 15 towns faced severely decreased rainfall.

Burma faced severe floods across twelve of its 14 states and divisions in July and August 2015, during the first phase of El Niño. Over 100 people were killed due to floods and landslides, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and 1.6 million people affected.