Analysis

ANALYSIS - Paris Climate Agreement and Turkey's ecology-economy equation

Turkey to make significant economic and ecological gains if it takes successful steps in line with Paris Climate Agreement

Burak Kaplan   | 13.10.2021
ANALYSIS - Paris Climate Agreement and Turkey's ecology-economy equation

The author is a lecturer at Beykent University's Department of Public Relations and Communications, and a doctoral student in the Department of Local Government and Urban Policies at Marmara University.

ISTANBUL

As the Kyoto Protocol was set to expire in 2020, the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) had been held in 2015 in Paris, France, where the Paris Climate Agreement was signed to be valid after 2020. The accord entered into force on Nov. 4, 2016, with the approval of at least 55 participating countries that accounted for 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Aiming to improve the implementation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Paris Climate Agreement seeks to support the principles of sustainable development. One of the main goals of the agreement is to keep the global average temperature rise at a controllable level. With the agreement, it was aimed to limit global warming to 2 C above pre-industrial levels by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, with a decision even to lower this value down to 1.5 C if possible.

The agreement imposes responsibilities for party countries to reduce emissions. These responsibilities vary depending on the development level of each country, committing advanced countries to lower their emissions to a greater extent. In this way, developed countries are expected to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

Finally, the agreement aims to support the flow of finance towards low-emission and climate-resilient development. In this context, advanced countries are expected to provide $100 billion in climate financing to developing countries by 2020, with this to be taken as a base amount after 2025.

Turkey puts Paris Climate Agreement into practice

Despite taking part in the high-level signing ceremony for the Paris Climate Agreement with the representatives of 175 countries in New York on April 22, 2016, Turkey waited until 2021 to put the accord into practice. Two main reservations laid behind Turkey’s waiting until 2021. The first of these was about whether Turkey would be able to receive the same treatment as other similar countries in gaining access to financial and technological support. The second was about whether it could meet expectations on emissions reduction, given such criteria as economic growth and population growth.

With President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s statement to the 76th UN General Assembly on Sept. 21, 2021, Turkey announced despite these concerns that it would submit the Paris Climate Agreement to its parliament for ratification. There are two main reasons for the Turkish capital Ankara to implement the agreement despite its reservations. The first of these is to establish that Turkey acts together with the international community in solving global problems. The second is to bring the solution of global problems onto the same plane with national goals, ensuring that global and national objectives become holistic. In this way, it is expected that Turkey will implement a move of green development by creating a sustainable ecosystem in the achievement of its goals for 2023, 2053, and 2071.

With the goals set by the Paris Climate Agreement, the protection of the natural environment is seen as a responsibility to future generations, both on a global and national scale. As per this responsibility, Turkey is committed to reducing emissions growth by 21% by 2030. As a result of this commitment, Turkey will announce its activities and its progress in "Nationally Determined Contributions " statements that will be prepared every five years.

With the Paris Climate Agreement, Turkey gathered its responsibilities on environmental protection around an international convention and brought this agreement to its parliament's general assembly. With the approval of all 353 lawmakers attending the general assembly, the “Bill on the Approval of the Ratification of the Paris Agreement” was adopted. After this, Turkey is expected to take concrete steps to protect the environment and make renewable energy more widespread. In this, public institutions have important responsibilities. Hence, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a statement on Oct. 11, 2021, that the Environment and Urbanization Ministry of the Republic of Turkey would be renamed the Environment, Urbanization, and Climate Change Ministry of the Republic of Turkey. With this change, Turkey took an institutional step in facing ecological problems.

The Paris Climate Agreement is relevant to all sectors, from energy to transportation, from urbanization to industry, and changes the way they do business. Accordingly, the Green Reconciliation Action Plan published by the Ministry of Trade hints at the changes that will take place. In this line, some of the transformations that will come with the Paris Climate Agreement include the implementation of Green Organized Industrial Zones and the Green Industrial Certification System, promoting a green and circular economy through sustainable product legislation and EU Chemicals Legislation, conducting studies towards monitoring endocrine-disrupting chemicals in drinking water sources, developing targets and policies to reduce the use of chemical fertilizers, reducing harmful emissions from the maritime sector, and strengthening infrastructure for electric vehicles and charging stations.

Ecology-economy equation

Turkey will make significant economic and ecological gains if it takes successful steps in line with the Paris Climate Agreement. With the “zero waste” project led by First Lady Emine Erdogan, the recovery rate in Turkey has increased by 9%, forestland has increased from 20.8 million hectares to about 23 million hectares, and the share of renewable energy sources in Turkey’s installed capacity of electricity generation has reached 53%.

If concrete steps are not taken to protect the environment, the economic cost of global climate change is expected to reach $8 trillion by 2050. Therefore, it is a necessity for humanity to redesign and implement its economic activities to minimize environmental disasters. Due to human activity, greenhouse gas emissions have increased more than 700-fold since the industrial revolution, 85% of the wetlands that existed 300 years ago worldwide have completely disappeared, the number of meteorological events caused by climate change has quadrupled over the last 30 years, and over 1.5 trillion tons of ice have melted annually as temperatures broke new records every year.

By signing the Paris Climate Agreement, Turkey got the opportunity to design an economic system that primarily will prevent environmental degradation. In this respect, preferring renewable energy resources over fossil fuels would mean decreasing the current account deficit of Turkey, an energy-dependent country. Thus, it will be possible to apply holistic public policies in areas such as renewable energy, waste management, and smart cities. The living spaces of the future will be created thanks to these public policies implemented. The agreement will also have the effect of strengthening Turkey’s relations with the EU. Turkey’s transformation towards green development enables a shift that will make zero carbon emissions possible in accordance with the "European Green Deal."

Turkey announced to the whole world that it would contribute to solving global environmental problems by implementing the Paris Climate Agreement. But, it is worth noting the following point: Solving environmental problems should be tackled within the framework of the justice mechanism -- the responsibilities of the countries that consume the most environmental resources and cause the most damage to the environment should be heavier. Therefore, sharing the burden and tasks to solve environmental problems should be based on fairness. Environmental protection should not be turned into a tool that developed countries use to prevent the economic growth of developing countries.

Turkey, while meeting its economic growth targets, should not accept such pressure mechanisms or compromise its environmental sensitivities, maintaining its economic and ecological concerns in a balance. Towards this end, it should incorporate into economic life the values of the Paris Climate Agreement overlapping with the “Net Zero Vision” target of 2053, redesigning business methods and taking sustainable development as a basis.

*Opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Anadolu Agency.

*Writing by Merve Berker

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