0712 GMT November 18, 2019
Masoumeh Ebtekar, who also heads Iran’s Department of Environment, made the proposal on her personal Twitter account calling it “The 18° Celsius Temperature Challenge”.
“Set your thermostat at home or work [at 18° Celsius] to curb air pollution and fight climate change,” Ebtekar wrote on her Twitter.
She said temperatures in rooms and halls of buildings should not exceed 21° Celsius and 18° Celsius, respectively.
The DoE chief uploaded copies of letters she had sent to state officials urging them to endorse her proposal.
“Since air pollution has increased, particularly in metropolises, and reducing energy consumption has a strong impact on controlling pollution, you [officials] are requested to adopt measures to reduce temperatures within buildings and offices,” she said in her note.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has endorsed the proposal.
“It [the proposal] is a essential to tackle air pollution and environmental pollution,” Zarif added.
Ebtekar’s initiative comes as the Iranian capital experienced severe air pollution for more than two weeks leading to the culminating days of 2015. However, rainfall has improved air quality since late hours of Wednesday.
Heavy pollution led Iranian officials on Wednesday to ban all outdoor sport and impose new traffic restrictions in the capital Tehran.
Amidst the worst period of pollution in three years, primary schools and nurseries were also closed. Pollution had led to the shutting down of schools in the previous days.
Traffic police also imposed new car exclusion zones. A decade-long central restriction zone, based on car number plates, was imposed across the city on Wednesday.
According to these routine limitations, vehicles with plates ending in an odd number cannot enter all areas on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday, while cars with even-numbered plates are banned on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday.
Officials say exhaust fumes from the five million cars and almost as many motorcycles that ply on Tehran's roads account for 80 percent of its pollution.
Such heavy air pollution usually occurs in cold seasons. The cold air causes climate inversion, where emissions from car exhausts hang in the air rather than rise up into the atmosphere.
Air pollution claims many lives in Iran each year, particularly in metropolises such as Tehran. Last December, hundreds of people in Tehran were hospitalized with heart and respiratory problems caused by heavy pollution.
Other cities in some other countries, including China have also been grappling with severe air pollution in recent weeks.
Chinese authorities declared red alerts, the highest air pollution level, for 10 cities last month.