Iran nuclear talks a step toward peace; combating climate change through reforestation

Published November 7, 2021, 12:12 AM

by Former House Speaker Jose C. De Venecia Jr.

PEACE-MAKER

Jose de Venecia Jr.
Former Speaker of the House

As the world’s economic powers gathered in Rome for the G-20 Summit, Iran announced that it would resume nuclear talks in Vienna before the end of this month. 

Tehran’s announcement is a welcome development as it is a significant step toward resurrecting the Iran nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). 

Under the landmark agreement, Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program and allow international inspections on its nuclear facilities in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions, which have crippled the country’s economy. 

The Iran nuclear accord was reached between the Persian Gulf country and China, France, Germany, Russia, United Kingdom, and the United States in July 2015, but has been in an unwarranted condition since then US President Donald Trump withdrew from it in 2018 and reimposed sanctions against Iran. 

Since April this year, however, Iran, China, Germany, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and indirectly the United States, had met six times in the Austrian capital to explore ways and means of salvaging the 2015 nuclear pact. The talks were suspended in June following the assumption into office of the new Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi. 

The Iran nuclear deal will help prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon and therefore defuse tension and potential conflict between Iran and the United States and Iran’s regional adversaries like Saudi Arabia and Israel. We have seen in recent years how the lingering skirmish has brought the Persian Gulf country and its rivals toward a military confrontation. 

A war in the Middle East would be catastrophic not just in the region but in the world as it provides more than 50 percent of the world’s petroleum supply, including the bulk of Philippine oil imports, notwithstanding the humanitarian crisis, among other devastations, that wars bring about. 

We in the Philippines also have millions of workers in the Middle East whose lives and livelihood would be in peril if a military conflict erupts in the region.

We have repeatedly underscored that we should never give up on peace, no matter how overly difficult and elusive it may be, as the alternative, which is war, is much more costly and will make all of us losers.

***

Meanwhile, at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, 110 world leaders have pledged to end and reverse deforestation by 2030. 

COP is a short and common term for the United Nations Climate Change Conference of Parties or UNCCCOP. It is the group’s 26th meeting, thus COP26.

The countries which signed the agreement reportedly cover some 85 percent of the world’s forests.

The US, UK, Germany, Norway, Netherlands, and several other donor-countries committed US$12 billion of public funds and US$7.2 billion of private funds to protect and restore forests throughout the world. 

Forests provide livelihoods and food supply and absorb vast amounts of carbon dioxide. Deforestation contributes to climate change as the hazardous carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere. 

Recall that last January 2020, the World Economic Forum launched a program to “grow, restore, and conserve one trillion trees around the world and in a bid to restore biodiversity and help fight climate change.” 

We have repeatedly written in this column our much earlier proposal for a “Trillion Trees Program” in Asia and the international community. 

We proposed that these programs can be organized through what we may call “Billions of Trees Foundations” managed by the private sector, or even by parliaments, political parties, or governments themselves. 

Massive tree planting can become a significant jobs-creating economic stimulus for developing countries, if not all countries. It can generate tens of millions of jobs worldwide for poor young men and young women in the emerging countries, apart from addressing food shortage and, indeed, contributing in a most significant way in the battle against climate change and environmental degradation.

 
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