December 2, 2015
The Paris climate change conference brought together an unlikely pair in a group photo – President Obama and Iranian Vice President Masoumeh Ebtekar, who was lead spokesperson for the hostage-takers of the U.S. Embassy. They were among the 150 heads of state and top leaders who gathered for the U.N. convention. This picture captured the two of them very close to each other.
Ebtekar, appointed vice president and head of the Environmental Protection Organization by President Hassan Rouhani, also held the same position under President Mohammad Khatami (1997-2005). She is one of the most controversial figures from the 444-day ordeal that began in 1979. An American-educated activist, she was known to the American television audience as “Sister Mary,” spokeswoman for the students who took over the U.S. Embassy. Her husband was also one of the hostage-takers.
The Paris conference comes nearly five months after Iran reached a landmark nuclear agreement with the world’s six major powers. The deal culminated some 20 months of intense diplomatic efforts, which included bilateral U.S.-Iran meetings.
Benjamin Netanyahu was also in the photo, even bringing Israel into the picture as well. He can be seen on the far left.
Iran intends to curb greenhouse gas emission in 2030 by four percent. In the run up to the conference, Tehran published a plan for adapting to climate change and mitigating pollution. The document also included a list of financial and technological needs. Assuming sanctions will be lifted as part of the nuclear deal, Iran estimated that it could cut emissions by an additional eight percent with enough investment, transfer of clean technologies from abroad and carbon credits. Four of the world’s 10 most polluted cities are in Iran, according to the World Health Organization.
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