Iran will ratify the landmark Paris agreement on climate change only if sanctions against it are lifted, a senior leader has told the BBC.
According to Ali Salajegheh, sanctions are impeding Iran’s progress in areas such as renewable energy.
Iran is the world’s eighth largest CO2 emitter, but it is one of only a few countries that has not ratified the Paris Agreement.
Emissions have skyrocketed in recent years as foreign investments in renewable energy have plummeted.
The government has also violently suppressed protests about water shortages.
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While the country’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, has chosen not to attend the UN climate change summit in Glasgow, an Iranian delegation has arrived to request relief from the economic blockade.
“Iran, like every other place on the planet, has been impacted by climate change,” Mr Salajegheh said.
“This has reduced our annual rainfall and also the inflow of water into our rivers by 40%, which has affected our agriculture as well as our industrial and drinking water.”
Iran, on the other hand, has been chastised for endangering its own water supply by drilling over a million wells and constructing around 700 dams.
On the Paris climate agreement, Mr Salajegheh stated that it must be a “two-way street.”
“When you have oppressive sanctions in place, it prohibits any kind of importation, including medicine, which is a fundamental human right,” he explained.
“If the sanctions are lifted, we have made a commitment to the international community, and it is at that point that they can transfer modern technology and finance to us, particularly in the area of renewable energy, so that we can modernise our deteriorating infrastructure,” he told BBC News.
But, in terms of climate change, can Iran be trusted?
The country initially stated that even if sanctions were not lifted, CO2 emissions would be reduced.
The reality is somewhat different; carbon pollution has increased, and the country is rated by the Climate Action Tracker as “critically insufficient” on climate change.
Since 2015, the country has not submitted a carbon-cutting strategy. According to experts, their emissions will likely increase by 50% by 2030.
“What happened was that we stated that if sanctions were lifted, we would reduce by 12%. Sanctions were not lifted “Mr Salajegheh stated.
As a country heavily reliant on oil and gas exports, how will Iran cope in a world where demand for fossil fuels is expected to fall?
“Oil and gas will go away one day, but if we use them in a way that keeps emissions to a minimum, we can use them alongside renewables,” Mr Salajegheh said.
While the rest of the world is debating how to reduce carbon emissions and raise funds for developing countries, there is little room for debate with Iran.
Representatives from the country are here to make a point about sanctions.
They currently claim that they are unable to join the global fight against climate change. They, on the other hand, want this to change.
“We have come to say that Iran is a nation that is engaged with the entire world. We are all members of this global village and can assist one another “According to the head of their delegation.
“When you have economic terrorism that has blockaded us, we are now saying remove this and we can engage with the rest of the world, and then rest assured that we will be here.”