Friday, December 11, 2009

Copenhagen Climate Negotiations and Iran

As the Vice President of the Islamic Republic, I headed the official delegation of Iran to the Kyoto negotiations in 1997. We were greeted by the Iranian Ambassador to Japan Manouchehr Mottakei ( the current Foreign Minster) and my late father Dr. Taghi Ebtekar, in the Narita International Airport .  Instead of a VIP limousine, which would also emit more greenhouse gases, we took the SHINKANSEN  or the high speed bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto to attend the conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change or UNFCCC . (Thats three Cs to make sure. )

 My father( who had a long history of executive and scientific activities in the field of the environment and climate change) had chaired the experts delegation and briefed me on the status of the negotiations. He told me about a Chinese scientist, who led the Chinese delegation, telling the UN session that now since the West has advanced, in energy technologies and their populations are prosperous  in glamorous  cities at the expense of emitting an excess of greenhouse gases to the global atmosphere, they are pressing to curb the emissions of developing countries. Now, a poor Chinese farmer wants to plant cucumbers for his livelihood while he is told that restrictions prevent him from doing so; the Chinese scientist had told the conference. This very meaningful phrase gave me a profound insight into the nature of the negotiations  and debates that ensued and actually continue up to today .
I have been reviewing my memoirs of those days after reading several  news reports about a Danish Text floating around at the UN Copenhagen climate talks yesterday. These talks  are reported by certain news media, to be in disarray after developing countries reacted forcefully  to documents that show world leaders will be forced to deal with an agreement that hands more power to rich countries and sidelines the UN's role in all future climate change negotiations. Unequal limits on per capita carbon emissions for developed and developing countries in 2050 are included in the draft meaning that developing countries would have to undertake commitments to cut emissions.While committments made in Kyoto were boycotted by the US and most industrialized countries  never fulfilled their committments in the first place, developing countries are now coerced into accepting new quotas. The unity of developing countries which have forcefully resisted pressures from the rich countries, under the G77 will be shattered since, according to this draft least developed countries are the only ones that do not face any new commitments.
In 1997 during the Kyoto negotiations which led to the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol , as the Vice President of the Islamic Republic of Iran , I spoke about the importance of addressing the concerns of developing countries and listening to the voices of the downtrodden people of the South many of whom still face abject poverty and lack the basic necessities of a decent livelihood.  Al Gore,  who was also a Vice President then, spoke before me about the importance of combatting climate change and the role that America , he vowed would play to guide the world out of the devastating tragedy of climate change. A promise that was broken from the moment George Bush was sworn in as the President of the United States of America.

The Danes are now accused of lobbying a pro-west text without informing developing nations.
The Danish hosts now need to come clean about their intentions. The Danish foreign secretary, Per Stig Møller, stressed yesterday that it is crucial the poorer countries get economic support from the rich to make any climate deal work. But only  10 Billion dollars for developing countries is not going to heal the widening gap between the North and the South. It seems that a much stronger political and economic determination at the highest levels is necessary to change current trends and prevent a global catastrophe. I have seen political leaders talk very strongly and emphasize on what has to be done, but in practice very little happens.
On certain documents that indicate that certain data on the warming of the earth have been manipulated I think that Dr. Pauchuri the Head of the IPCC should respond with sufficient clarity on this matter. Further ambiquity and political games on this scandal will seriously damage the reputation of thousands of scholars who have truthfully served this cause up to now.
The final point I would like to make is about Iran. During the seventh and eighth governments, Presidency of Seyed Mohammad Khatami, we incorporated   many policies concerning energy efficiency and curbing GG emissions and abating air pollution. During the ninth government most of those policies were abandoned and regulatory and government institutions on the environment were weakened due to the irresponsible behavior of government officials. It became clear that no serious political will exists at the highest levels of the executive branch to protect Iranian or for that matter the global environment. I have no reason to believe that this government which has been seriously weakened by internal dispute and popular dissent after the Presidential elections this year, will act otherwise. What I do not understand are the intentions of Mr.Ahmadinejad  who apparently wishes to take part in the Copenhagen conference. My guess is that he participates presumably for a test of international legitimacy or media fanfare .

1 comment:

Shahab Mahdavi said...

I wish a day to have a green world.
A day without factories producing tons of carbon dioxide. A day without harmful chemical fertilizers in farms. A day we can observe the night sky the way it really is. We must not me that short sighted. We must pay more attention to our children and next generation. All these natural sources of energy, mines, jungles and even oxygen (air) were not created only for people in 21st century.
These things must be taught at schools to train future environmentalists people. The one who pays no attention to what is around him/her is selfish.