Sanctions threaten Iran climate efforts: Veep
Iran’s vice president and environment chief, Massoumeh Ebtekar, has told AFP that the West’s failure to fully implement the nuclear deal and lift sanctions are endangering her country’s efforts to meet climate targets. In an exclusive interview, Ebtekar said Iran had already seen temperatures rise by 1.5 degrees over the past 20 years, and urgently needed to work with international partners. “We’re facing the consequences of climate change already in Iran. It’s not a matter of the future, it’s a matter of today,” said Ebtekar, who heads the department of environment and has won multiple global awards for her work.
“We have a severe shortage in underground water reservoirs as well as drying up of our rivers and wetlands. In part this is due to unsustainable practices we had in Iran, but it’s also due to the aftermath of climate change.” With Iran still largely frozen out of the global banking system because of continuing US sanctions, she said commitments for a 12 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 were at risk.
Two-thirds of the planned cuts were “conditional on a full lifting of sanctions because... it requires international collaboration - the exchange not only of experiences but also new technologies is very, very important,” she said. Although most international sanctions were lifted under last year’s nuclear deal, the United States maintained sanctions linked to human rights and Iran’s ballistic missile program making global banks fear they could be fined by Washington for doing business with the Islamic republic.
‘Reasons to be Skeptical’
The continued blockages have made renewing trade with the outside world much tougher than anticipated, and conservatives in Iran have leapt on the issue to make life difficult for moderate President Hassan Rouhani, saying his team was duped by Western negotiators. “They have reasons to be sceptical,” said Ebtekar, who is one of several Iranian vice presidents. “There are many instances where (the Americans) have not been fulfilling their commitments.”
Ebtekar, 55, gained international fame as spokesperson for the student hostagetakers during the 1979-80 siege of the American embassy in Tehran, but has since become a key figure in the reformist movement, pushing for more open and democratic politics and closer ties with the West. She insisted the overall outlook was positive - exports are up and the nuclear accord has shown Iran is “ready for investment, for trade, for working with the global community”. She pointed to the wealth of opportunities in her own field, saying international firms were lining up to invest in solar energy, water conservation and waste management, if only full banking relations could be restored. —AFP