Tehran moves toward Kyoto treaty

Iran took another step towards signing the landmark Kyoto treaty, which aims to cut global warming, with the participation of government and oil industry officials in a UN-supported workshop aimed at studying the impact signing up would have on the oil-rich country. The Kyoto treaty has been ratified by 119 countries so far, but Iran is one of 11 member countries of the Organisation of Petroleum Export Countries (OPEC) who are stalling.

Oil industry sources say Iran is reluctant to join because it is concerned it could adversely affect its crude oil exports, which currently stands at about two million barrels per day (bpd).

"If the Kyoto Protocol commitments were applied as established, they would mean losses of up to US $63 billion per year for the Organization's Member Countries. Losses on such a large scale would clearly be unsustainable for the economies of OPEC Member Countries and other oil-producing nations," said the OPEC Secretary General, Dr Ali Rodriguez-Araque.

But the Protocol has market-oriented provisions, such as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which would encourage international investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy within developing countries such as Iran.

“The Clean Development Mechanism is the only Kyoto Protocol mechanism relevant to Iran's context. CDM was discussed at length as both an instrument for technology transfer and an effective green house gas mitigation mechanism. Thus, awareness-raising through this unprecedented workshop has been a major strategy to facilitate the debate on whether Iran should accede to the Kyoto Protocol. The analytical results of the project will be presented to a high-level ministerial seminar in January or February 2004, in order to allow the main governmental stakeholders to agree on a common accession, or otherwise strategy,” Mehdi Kamyab, a coordinator for the Global Environment Facility at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) told IRIN.

Almost 200 officials and energy and environment experts from around the country took part in the workshop, which was supported by UNDP, a UNDP press statement said.

“This workshop has offered an excellent opportunity to address the link between Iran’s domestic programmes and international efforts to achieve sustainable development through the Kyoto Protocol, and its market-based approach, the Clean Development Mechanism,” senior energy expert Dr. Roger Raufer of United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) said in the statement.

Iran’s Department of Environment (DOE) and the ministry of petroleum’s Iranian Fuel Conservation Organisation (IFCO) in cooperation with UNDP and UNDESA are also studying the costs and benefits of Iran signing from a sustainable development perspective.