Iran has proposed the creation of an international fund to fight climate change that would tax nations based on their pollution output, according to state media.
Mohsen Rezaei, Tehran’s Expediency Council secretary, said that richer countries had an obligation to help poorer ones to mitigate climate impacts.
“Some people in the world say that all countries should reduce greenhouse gas emissions equally, but we cannot simply accept that because we are at the beginning of development,” IRNA, the government news agency, quoted him as saying.
Mr Rezaei pointed the finger at China and the US, as the world’s biggest polluters.
He said that major polluters should be held accountable by a body “independent of the powers and governments”, adding that “Iran can be the initiator of such an independent international demand and the issue of bio-humanity as an ideal”.
The first meeting of a new climate change committee was held on Sunday in Isfahan, a major Iranian city, IRNA quoted Mr Rezaei as saying.
Under the Paris Agreement, which US president Joe Biden has now rejoined, better-off nations pledged to give poorer ones $100bn (£73bn) a year by 2020 to help them tackle and adapt to the climate crisis. However, funding has lagged so far.
Iran itself has what many critics consider a poor record on environmental protection and responsibility. It remains one of largest producers of fossil fuels in the world, despite US sanctions that have hampered its ability to sell oil and gas.
In recent years it has also arrested dozens of environmental and conservation activists on national security charges widely regarded as trumped up.
In late 2019, a hardline court sentenced eight environmentalists to jail on charges of “spreading corruption on earth”, accusing them of “collaborating with the enemy states of the US and Israel to spy in favor of [the] CIA and Mossad”.
The activists included those devoted to preserving rare species of Asiatic cheetahs which are dying out because of infringements on their natural habitats.
Iran is a notorious builder of river dams, and has allowed industrial agriculturalists to aggressively draw groundwater from delicate high desert aquifers, leading to environmental degradation and drought.
Iranians who protest environmental catastrophes – such as the disastrous draining of the once-majestic salt lake at Urmia – have been shot with rubber bullets and arrested on national security charges.