A new era in climate policy is beginning in Turkey after it ratified the Paris Agreement, according to a joint statement released on Thursday by 15 environmental groups in the country.
Turkey is expected to set new targets and prepare action plans for emissions reduction after it became one of the 191 countries that ratified the deal on Wednesday to contribute to global efforts against climate change.
The statement, signed by such organizations as the World Wildlife Fund Turkey and the Climate Action Network Europe, underlined that this was a positive step on Turkey's part, adding that with the adoption of the net zero emissions target by 2053, the country would enter a new era in its climate policy.
It also pointed to statements by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the UN General Assembly last month that the document's approval in parliament would bring radical changes in the country's investment, production, and employment policies.
They said that to fulfill this commitment and the 2053 target, emission reduction targets were expected in the short term, as were new action plans, especially in the field of energy but also in industry, transportation, buildings, agriculture, waste, and the use of natural assets.
'Turkey ranks 16th among the countries that cause the most greenhouse gas emissions in the world and its per-capita emission level is increasing every day. To reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Turkey must first set short-term climate targets that will cover the period until 2053.'
The statement went on to say that in order to make policies that are in line with the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 C degrees under the Paris Agreement, Turkey should review its nationally determined contributions statement and present a 'more ambitious' emissions reduction target.
- Energy sector in priority
The statement highlighted that the energy sector was the first priority in the new action plan that Turkey is set to prepare to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with its new climate policy.
It also emphasized that Turkey should phase out fossil fuels and end support for them.
'As a first step in its new climate policy, it is of increasing importance that the government makes a commitment that no new coal plants will be allowed to be built,' said the joint statement, noting that to reach net zero emissions by 2053, such 'important milestones' would need to be set today.
The statement also stressed that it would be important for Turkey to set a target year for its coal phaseout. 'Turkey can become one of the leading countries in this regard by planning an exit from coal,' it added.
It noted that steps to be taken to combat climate change would entail benefits in such areas as employment, clean air, and technological development, all of which could boost national income by 7% via an active climate policy.
On Dec. 12, 2015, the parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change reached an agreement to fight climate change and achieve a sustainable low-carbon future at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris.
Turkey signed the agreement on April 22, 2016.
The Paris Agreement, defined as 'a bridge between today's policies and climate-neutrality before the end of the 21st century,' seeks to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by stopping global average temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels over the next century and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius, if possible.
Writing by Jeyhun Aliyev
Reporting by Nuran Erkul Kaya