Iran will experience an increase of 2.6 °C in mean temperatures and a 35% decline in precipitation in the next decades. Hence, climate change will be more severe in Iran than the rest of the Middle East states.
However, Iran’s population and environment are already facing the first impacts of climate change. For instance, Lake Urmia is the second biggest lake within Iran. Its surface today is only about 10% of what it was in the 1970s. Additionally, Iranian urban areas are heavily polluted, i.e., the Iranian city of Zabol was the most polluted city in the world according to recent WHO rankings. This phenomena has sparked anti-government protests, such as the 2021 Water crisis. Khamenei responded to these protests with harsh violence through the deployment of the IGRC and internet cuts to disorganize the protesters.
A different approach: The other face of Khamenei nationally
In 2015, Ali Khamenei issued a letter addressed to former Iran President, Hassan Rouhani, parliament Speaker, Ali Larijani and head of judiciary Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani. Khamenei stated the need to develop the “green economy”. Consequently, he issued a 15-point list of policies on how to mitigate climate change adverse effects. In order to achieve this goal, Khamenei recommends developing clean energy industries, improving waste management and focusing on water use education. He also warnedagainst the destruction of Iran’s forests. Last but not least, Khamenei stressed imposing tougher penalties to deter polluters by requiring them to pay for damages.
A different approach: The other face of Khamenei internationally
Khamenei thinks that international organizations can be the way to mitigate climate change effects. In 2015, he called for an “environmental diplomacy”. This idea focuses on creating and fostering bilateral, multilateral, regional and international partnerships and targeted cooperation in the environmental field. Under Khamenei’s rule Iran has signed 2016’s Paris Agreement. Iran is one of the largest emitters of carbon dioxide, and targets a 12% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Recently, the Iranian delegation attended COP26, celebrated in Glasgow in 2021 and also attended the World Summit.