COVID-19 and climate change are “two pandemics” in the world right now, Turkey's environment minister said on Thursday.
'I believe that decisiveness to tackle climate change will be clearer at COP26 (UN Climate Change Conference) in Glasgow,' Murat Kurum said at the joint news conference with COP26 President Alok Sharma in the capital Ankara.
Recalling Turkey's request to be removed from the Annex 1 list of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, he said that he reiterated this request to Sharma.
'Our expectation from this conference [COP26] is to present an equitable and fair solution to Turkey in the fight against climate change,' Kurum added.
He went on to say that he also conveyed that Turkey's access to climate finance should be decided as soon as possible.
Although Turkey has not ratified the Paris Agreement yet, it fulfills its responsibilities more than many other signatory countries, he added.
'In this regard, we protect both our natural and water resources, and increase our protected areas ... We take our steps within the framework of both our local and regional action plans and we update our strategies in line with the 2030 and 2050 targets as part of the adaptation to climate change,' Kurum noted.
Noting that with the Zero Waste project, the recycling rate in Turkey has increased to 22%, Kurum said the number of energy-efficient and climate-sensitive constructions has been increasing across the country.
- ‘Green growth is absolutely possible’
For his part, Alok Sharma, the president of the COP26 and a British minister, said that countries can increase economic growth while decreasing harmful greenhouse gas emissions at the same time.
“Our country, the UK, is leading the way – over the last 30 years British governments have grown our economy by 78% while cutting emissions by 44%,” he said, adding: “So I can tell you green growth is absolutely possible and not just the UK but other countries have demonstrated this as well.'
Applauding Turkey's Zero Waste project and reforestation campaigns, Sharma reminded that Turkey ranks fifth in Europe and 12th in the world for its increasing renewable energy capacity.
'As a member of OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) and G20, Turkey is undoubtedly a regional leader and that is why you do matter so very much,' he said, adding that the two countries will continue to work together.
Mentioning that the Mediterranean Basin is one of the regions most vulnerable to climate change, Sharma said Turkey will have to build climate resilience.
'I do believe that we can build back better from this pandemic by building back greener and making a decisive change in the fight against climate change and we owe that to our children, to our grandchildren, and the future generations,' he concluded.
By Burak Bir