Iran Criticizes Developed Nations’ Inaction Against Climate Change
TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Zahra Ershadi strongly criticized the developed countries for failing to fulfill their international commitments concerning climate change, warning that extreme climate change can undermine the sustainable development of all countries.
Zahra Ershadi issued the warning while addressing a UN session on Wednesday after the UN General Assembly adopted by consensus a historic resolution asking the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to define the obligations of states to combat climate change, a legal opinion that could drive countries to take stronger measures and clarify international law.
“On global issues, such as climate change, we all are in the same boat. We are facing the same crises and are condemned to the same destiny. But all do not share the same capacities and capabilities to counter this common challenge,” Ershadi said.
The full text of Zahra Ershadi's speech is as follows:
At the outset, I would like to begin by thanking the core group, especially Vanuatu, for tabling the resolution on the “request for an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the obligations of States in respect of climate change”.
Extreme climate change can undermine the sustainable development of all countries. The international community has been striving to address this challenge through actions and measures contained in various agreements, particularly the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as the cornerstone of actions and commitments and the Paris Agreement under UNFCCC in pursuit of the objective of the convention and its principles, in particular, the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.
Like other developing countries, climate change has taken its toll on Iran. A serious decline in rainfall, and an increase in temperature and incidence of dust and sand storms, thus making Iran exposed to and affected by the adverse impacts of climate change. Sustainable use of scarce water resources together with protecting wetlands and combating dust and sand storms with mainly trans-boundary origins, are amongst relevant pressing national challenges.
Iran attaches great importance to combat severe climate change and its environmental ramifications. In this regard, our supreme leader endorsed the General Policies for protection of the Environment, a forward-looking manifesto for sustainable development with significant impacts for environment in Iran. This is also a strong sign of commitment to the protection of our planet earth.
It is obvious that humanity is facing a global crisis that is not only all-consuming, complex and multifaceted but also has immense impacts on all aspects of human life as well as global affairs. Such a cross border and common challenge requires common solutions and joint efforts to be tackled. The nature, scope and consequences of this challenge have an immediate and direct linkage with the nature, scope and level of the commitments and responsibilities of states. Paris Agreement has recognized the differentiation among developed and developing countries in terms of their specific needs and different levels of capacities to deal with the major areas such as mitigation, adaptation, technology transfer and development, finance and capacity building.
In addition, there are situations and circumstances that prevent States from fulfilling their environmental obligations in full or in part. Bearing this in mind, it is upon the Court to consider the well-established principle of common but differentiated responsibilities as the principle 7 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development.
We regret that the final text does not incorporate my delegation’s suggestion to explicitly request the Court to identify and consider those situations and circumstances which also preclude States’ required actions. It also focuses unduly on one assumed cause of climate change. We believe it is necessary for the General Assembly resolution to ask comprehensive questions and for the Court to consider the matter holistically and comprehensively. The current resolution does not bring this clarity and thus lacks much needed balance.
On global issues, such as climate change, we all are in a same boat. We are facing with the same crises and are condemned to the same destiny. But all do not share the same capacities and capabilities to counter this common challenge. Furthermore, all do not have similar roles and responsibilities for this challenge and its illusive future. We can forgive those who were historically involved in degrading our planet and its environment, but we cannot ignore their historical responsibilities and subsequent obligations to fulfil their commitments to redress it.
It is unfortunate that those in the global north who hold historical responsibility for this emerging global challenge continue to disregard their international responsibilities through their actions or omissions, especially towards developing countries.
In addition to the lack of development, lack of technology, lack of know-how and lack of adequate financial resources, the imposition of the Unilateral Coercive Measures (UCMs) is the most crucial barrier preventing targeted countries from meeting their environmental obligations. UCMs prevent us from accessing relevant technologies, knowledge and financial resources. As an example, my country has been denied from receiving GEF resources during its recent cycles simply due to the pressures inserted on the implementing agencies to withhold and refuse Iran’s projects. There are clear and specific reasons as to why we proposed an amendment to the resolution during negotiations and what we expect the ICJ to take into consideration when is reflecting on the obligations of States and their legal consequences.
Even in the absence of UCMs, it is hard for developing Countries to fulfil their environmental obligations if the means of implementation are not adequately available. While we have previously highlighted the nature of environmental crises and the challenges that the world continues to face, there is a dire need to be clear: we are not talking about the voluntary commitment or contributions by the global north. It is the obligation upon developed countries to provide means of implementation, such as capacity building, transfer of technologies related to the mitigation of environmental crisis to fulfil international obligations and the provision of support as well as mobilization of climate finance for developing countries. In addition, all protections emanating from intellectual property rights for environmental inventions and technologies, which have an extensive contribution to mitigate climate change and help countries to meet their environmental obligations, must be removed. In a nutshell, we expect the ICJ to address the obligatory nature of developed countries’ international commitments when it comes to their environmental obligations towards the rest of the world.
The Court is also expected to stand with the principle of sovereignty of states while also taking into consideration their national priorities in States’ policy making.
The Islamic Republic of Iran, while recognizing the mutually reinforcing link between the necessity of a healthy environment and the realization of economic, social and cultural rights as well as the right to development, underlines that the linkage between human rights and environment lacks not only a clear definition but also an understanding among States and does not appear at the core of international human rights treaties.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has announced its readiness to mitigate its GHGs emission comparing with the business-as-usual scenario, subject to termination of all sanctions, access to financial resources and the required technologies. Accordingly, Iran welcomes cooperation and partnership in the implementation of our globally agreed agenda.