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30 شماره آخر

  • شماره 4837 -
  • ۱۳۹۹ شنبه ۲۰ دي

Struggling to Breathe

Climate  change  and  air  pollution:  two  sides  of  the  same  coin

Reza Maddahi
The level of air pollution has again passed a critical level in Iًran. In many cities including Tehran, Isfahan, Mashhad, Tabriz and Qom, people are grappling with air pollution crises. Scientists believe that there is a clear synergistic interaction between air pollution and climate change. The key driver of climate change is the emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) while the main air pollutants are carbon monoxide (CO), lead (Pb), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and particulate matter (PM). Both crises are a result of the same activity—the extensive use of fossil fuels. There are numerous scientific evidences demonstrating that the efforts to mitigate GHGs will reduce the consumption of fossil fuels and achieve significant reductions in other air pollutants that impact air quality. Air quality and climate policies can provide mutual benefits. This means by integrating climate and air pollution policies, policymakers can hit two birds with one stone.
The international framework made for strengthening efforts against climate change can be appropriately used in our country for both air pollution and climate change crises. The Paris Agreement is the main international legal instrument which aims at tackling climate change on a global scale. In December of 2015, at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s COP21 held in Paris, France, the world adopted the Paris Agreement, the successor to the Kyoto Protocol. It sets a new bottom-up approach with more flexible obligations and self-imposed mitigation and adaptation commitments for all countries. Under the Paris Agreement, member states, being those who ratified the Agreement, submit nationally determined contributions (NDCs) outlining plans to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). The success of the Paris Agreement is mainly dependent on implementing the NDCs which are simply the voluntary climate plans of countries based on their national interests, capabilities and circumstances. While the submission of NDCs is obligatory for member states, implementing them is not a legally binding obligation under the Agreement. Above all, there are numerous exclusive facilitative mechanisms for developing countries like that of Iran, such as TEC, CTCN, GEF and GCF, which provides member states with financial and technological support  for their climate efforts. 
In 2015, just before COP21 where the Paris Agreement was adopted, Iran’s leadership issued a 15-point list of environmental policy directives which emphasized the importance of “Managing climatic changes and confronting environmental threats such as desertification, dust particles, drought and microbial and radioactive transmitters”. The Paris Agreement was signed by the Rouhani administration in 2016. Like any other international treaty, the Agreement also requires the ratification of Parliament and the approval of the Guardian Council and is to be considered as a legally binding instrument under Iranian law. There is a huge misunderstanding amongst Iranian officials in Parliament and the Guardian Council about the legal and political consequences of ratifying the Agreement. Given the non-punitive and voluntary nature of most of the provisions under the Paris Agreement, by ratifying it the Islamic Republic of Iran, the world’s seventh biggest emitter of CO2 in 2020, will be eligible to take advantage of the international financial and technological supports for tackling the air pollution and climate change crises. As  of  December 2020, there were just seven signatories that had not ratified the Paris Agreement: Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, South Sudan, Turkey and Yemen.

 

 

 

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