People, Environment

Iran: Paris Agreement Will Survive Without US

For Iran, tackling climate change is crucial because of its impacts on water resources and forests, both of which have suffered greatly as a result of increasing global temperatures
 Massoumeh Ebtekar, the head of the Department of Environment  Massoumeh Ebtekar, the head of the Department of Environment

Iran's top environment official believes the historic Paris Agreement on combating climate change "will not fall apart" after US President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the accord.

Speaking to state news agency IRNA on Saturday, Massoumeh Ebtekar, the head of the Department of Environment who is also a vice president, said the agreement is "a global accord that will not fall apart when a country leaves it".

The Paris Accord was signed in December 2015 in the French capital by almost 200 countries and obligates signatories to work together to limit the planet's warming to under 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Iran, which ratified the deal in November, is already seeing the impacts of a warming Earth: rising incidence of wildfires, declining rainfall and water shortage.

"This is a multilateral agreement that was hammered out with much difficulty … It's a golden agreement that unites people," Ebtekar said.

"The US' unilateral decision to pull out of the accord will have no effect on the agreement, because many countries have responded to Trump's move by reaffirming their commitment to the deal."

World leaders voiced their dismay with the US in the wake of Trump's June 1 speech at the White House.

He said, "I was elected to represent the people of Pittsburgh, not Paris," in his latest nationalistic rhetoric, compelling Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto to take to Twitter almost immediately to announce his city's commitment to the Paris Accord and proceeded to sign an executive order to continue his city's climate efforts a day later.

Newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron was the first head of state to respond to Trump, saying in an English video broadcast he "respects" the American president's decision but considers it a "mistake".

"Wherever we live, whoever we are, we all share the same responsibility: Make our planet great again," Macron added, twisting Trump's campaign slogan "Make America Great Again".

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also weighed in on Twitter, stressing that climate action "is not just the right thing to do; it is the smart thing to do".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the decision "regrettable", while Russian President Vladimir Putin joked that Moscow should be "grateful" to Trump for recent poor weather, which has seen it snow in Moscow in June.

The US is the second highest emitter of greenhouse gases, right behind China. Together, they account for about 15% of global emissions.

Iran last month unveiled the National Strategic Plan on Climate Change, which details the role of every government sector in reducing Iran's carbon emissions, as well as measures to mitigate the impacts of a warming planet on various sectors, including health and agriculture.

According to Iran’s Meteorological Organization, the country’s greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 3% in the past decade and the average temperature has risen by 1.8°C since 1750, considerably higher than the global average of 1.1°C.


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