Iran-China Deal Must be Green

Photograph Source: Official website of Ali Khamenei – CC BY 3.0

When ultra-conservative members of Iran’s parliament and the usual neo-con suspects within the United States power structure agree on an issue you can be certain geopolitical watchers will be getting the popcorn out and will want to find out what is really going on. For now nobody has the full details of the Iran-China deal though this is supposed to be a leaked Farsi version.

The rumor that Kish Island will be transferred to China has been debunked. The thirty percent discount on oil sales is not 30% but is 18% but paid in soft currencies, which supposedly will mean another 12% discount, thereby totaling 30% in the opinion of some. Hopefully the 18% can be reduced as it seems way too high and the soft currency part firmed up. Why there is even a discount is unclear.

When Iran was tricked into dismantling its nuclear energy program back in 2015 many were deluded, including myself, that most of Iran’s problems would be solved and it would “bring Iran into the world community economically and politically”, as Juan Cole writes in “How Trump Lost Iran to China”.

For correct historical record-keeping it should be mentioned that Iran was “lost” to America 41 years ago and Trump had little to do with it. And getting Iran back into the “world community economically and politically” is a camouflaged way of saying Iran should have willingly returned to the bosom of the American Empire. With the passing of five years it has become clear that many were suffering from wishful thinking back then.

Iran has not been “lost” to China. The Iranian nation is an independent, highly educated, resource rich country with vast potential hobbled by a long list of critical problems it has to solve. And it has to do this without the interference of regime change warmongers or traitors that falsely claim they are patriots. The Iran-China deal can be a mutually beneficial arrangement if great care is taken in drafting an agreement that is not lopsided and exploitive plus avoids a debt-trap for Iran.

Some of the better commentary on the Iran-China deal so far are the following: “The East-Bound Wind Causes a Storm in the West” by Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi, “To understand the China-Iran deal, forget the hype and look at the context” by Jacopo Scita, and “A pragmatic partnership: Why China and Iran try to collaborate” by Ellie Geranmayeh. And Dr. Shireen Hunter’s “How Iran-China deal could alter the Middle East’s balance of power.”

Unfortunately, nobody has yet pointed out the most critical issue that seems to have been left out in the Iran-China deal and that is planning for climate catastrophe. Having electric trains run between a couple of Iranian cities is pointless when that electricity is provided through power plants burning fossil fuels.

Before the Iran-China deal is signed and endorsed by the Iranian parliament the following items need to be added:

+ One: The transfer of the latest technology for the production of batteries, PV cells, windmills, and electric vehicles. This would include the building of necessary production facilities on a similar timescale as Tesla’s factory in China.

+ Two: The conversion of the national electricity network so that it can handle power generated through renewable energy.

+ Three: The rapid conversion of the Iranian car and bus industry to electric vehicles.

+ Four: Construction of a nationwide network of rapid charging stations.

+ Five: Construction of thousands of solar powered desalination plants along the southern coast to provide for the greening of Iran via seawater greenhouses.

+ Six: Construction of rooftop solar panels so every house and apartment building becomes a charging station and has a solar powered water heater plus a grey water system.

+ Seven: The construction of massive solar power plants so that Iran becomes entirely powered by renewable energy and is an exporter of clean energy to all surrounding nations.

All of the above is within reach and can be implemented given that the technology exists. Most importantly it would create employment for millions of young Iranians.

Iran needs to stop investing in a car industry that is decades behind the times, polluting, and essentially obsolete. Our entire rail network needs to be able to handle the latest high speed electric powered trains so that we are not dependent on air travel between cities.

If Iran fails to incorporate programs along the lines of the above it will be heading towards a future founded on obsolete technology, dated infrastructure, and the causing of further climate change damages instead of being part of the solution.

Neglecting planning for a green future via the Iran-China deal means massive south to north migration, collapse of agriculture due to water depletion, dependence on imported food, and the shackling of Iranians to a future of climate catastrophe victimhood.

It should also be mentioned that $400 billion over a twenty five year period is insufficient and instead should be one trillion dollars over a period of ten years. By the looks of what is known about the deal so far it seems Iran is essentially handing over control of its fossil fuel resources to China for a period of twenty five years. Surely this is worth much more than a measly four hundred billion dollars spread out over a period of twenty five years? Has anybody crunched out the numbers? Is not a trillion dollars spread out over ten years closer to the value of Iran’s fossil fuel resources?

Iran may be under tremendous pressure and the Iran-China deal may seem like a lifeline but it must not act hastily and sell out its national interests and its future on terms which will result in dependency, outdated technology, and climate change victimhood.

It should not be left unmentioned that for any part of the Iran-China deal to be beneficial to Iran the management of government organizations and companies require radical top to bottom reform, especially considering that 80% of the economy is state controlled.

At the moment reverse meritocracy prevails within such organizations where there exists no incentive to get anything done but plenty of reasons to block solutions so a few can get pastries.

Even minor decisions require processing through multiple layers of committee meetings causing financial loss and opportunities for those able to bypass the hurdles.

Usually such organizations are staffed by those that have landed the job due to family connections or other insider relationships creating a workforce of incompetents that rarely put in a full day’s work but still get full wages, paid directly from the sale of a barrel of oil.

When government organizations are in such a mess is it any surprise that the Covid 19 crisis has ended up out of control and twenty five million Iranians infected?

The changes that are required are fundamental and existential without which Iran’s short-term future is dark and expecting some overseas savior unrealistic. Iran is at a historical juncture and it is critical that Iranians unite, set aside their differences, and work together to create a good future for every Iranian, not just a few.

Daryan Rezazad is the managing director of Mero Iran and is currently establishing Pivotal Cleantech of Iran so as to transfer technologies which are sustainable and help solve environmental problems.