Failure to Comply With Paris Climate Deal Not an Option

Failure to Comply With Paris Climate Deal Not an OptionFailure to Comply With Paris Climate Deal Not an Option

Iran's top energy official has warned that should Tehran fail to meet its obligations under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, it will have to deal with sanctions "far more serious" than the international economic sanctions the country grappled with for years.

Speaking to the media at the weekend, Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian said, "Due to the global impact of climate change, Iran's failure to meet its end of the deal will have serious repercussions," IRNA reported.

Representatives of 195 countries negotiated a historic agreement in Paris last December to curb global emissions of greenhouse gases and limit the planet’s warming to under 2°C, preferably 1.5°C, by 2100. While Iran’s pledge is to decrease emissions by 4%, some officials say with sufficient international aid, Iran can reduce its emissions by 12% by 2030.

Iran accounts for 1.30% of global emissions, which is high compared to other countries because despite Tehran’s increasing emissions over the past few years, the economy has not developed as would have been expected.  According to Iran’s Meteorological Organization, the country’s greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 3% in the past decade.

Many blame Iran’s high energy consumption on the fact that the sector, especially electricity, is heavily subsidized. In other words, consumers pay a fraction of the real cost of what they consume. This has not only led to excessive energy use because it is cheap, but it has also taken a heavy toll on the Energy Ministry’s revenues, according to Chitchian. The ministry is reportedly in the red to the tune of billions of dollars and has been unable to pay contractors in the past several years.

A climate plan of action unveiled by the government last November explicitly states the compulsion for significant policy reform in the energy sector, which is responsible for over 90% of Iran’s greenhouse gas emissions.

In December, 195 countries agreed on the Paris climate deal to restrain global warming. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif signed the Paris Agreement in April during a ceremony at the United Nations headquarters in New York. According to Massoumeh Ebtekar, Vice-President and head of the Department of Environment, the deal should also be ratified by the parliament.

With the lifting of economic sanctions in January, Iran hopes to gain access to modern technology for achieving what some call “unambitious” climate targets.

Iran announced in May that it will embark on a project with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization to reduce its energy footprint by optimizing its generation and consumption to help rein in rising carbon emissions and meet its 2030 climate change target. The ultimate objective of the project is to find ways to reduce the energy footprint of and carbon emissions in key sectors, namely oil, iron and steel, petrochemical, brick and cement production.


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