Iranian Professor Speaks On Nation’s Response to Climate Change

By: Lauren Kirkwood
Publisher: ConE Council on the Environment
Published: October 14, 2013

The nation of Iran is highly vulnerable to the effects of worldwide climate change, due largely to its geographical situation, Dr. Mohammad Soltanieh of the Sharif University of Technology in Tehran said Monday at an ESSIC seminar highlighting climate change in Iran under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

However, the country has made progress in identifying areas where it may be able to adapt, and is looking to the future with an eye toward positive environmental change, Soltanieh said.

“The awareness is there,” he said. “This is a very serious issue. [The government] cannot plan for anything unless they know what is going on with the climate.”

Under the UNFCCC, countries must prepare detailed reports for the U.N. on their nations’ situation and actions they will take to combat climate change. Data from Iran shows that mitigation policies will be a crucial factor in limiting harmful effects, Soltanieh said.

The University of Maryland was recently named an observing organization of the UNFCCC, meaning students and faculty will be able to witness U.N. policy negotiations regarding climate change. A delegation from the university will attend the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, Poland, in November. 

Because Iran’s climate is largely arid or semi-arid, it is particularly at risk for water scarcity. Changes in precipitation caused by climate change would impact the supply of food, as well as national income and unemployment, because agriculture provides 24 percent of total employment and 75 percent of the nation’s food.

Additionally, the economy of Iran, like those of many Middle Eastern countries, is heavily dependent on oil exports. Reducing oil production, however, would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which is one of the target goals of the UNFCCC.

“Countries like Iran that are highly dependent on income from oil exports – this is a very serious issue,” Soltanieh said.

A focus on economic diversification could be a solution, Soltanieh added. The commitment of the Iranian government – and in particular the new administration – to climate change research and turning that research into action is a positive sign that the country is focused on solutions, he said.

“Climate change is receiving more and more importance every day at the government level,” he said. “The awareness at the highest level is very high now.”


Reprinted from ConE Council on the Environment with permission.