Europe, Environment, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

Climate change bigger threat than pandemic: EU official

It is also ‘risk multiplier’ for all societies, head of EU delegation to Turkey says in Ankara meeting on climate change

Nazli Yuzbasioglu  | 18.02.2021 - Update : 18.02.2021
Climate change bigger threat than pandemic: EU official


Climate change is a “bigger” threat than the COVID-19 pandemic in the long run, and it requires immediate and collective action, said the head of the EU delegation to Turkey.

“Climate change is not only a risk in itself, but it is also a risk multiplier for all of our societies,” Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut told the meeting held with the theme of “Tackling Climate Change” in the Turkish capital Ankara on Wednesday.

The global community, he said, has passed the stage of questioning the causes of climate change, however, it still has an advantage as it knows a way to address the problem: the decarbonization of countries’ economies.

The German diplomat said the international community should not view climate change as a risk only for its gradually increasing effects on societies and stressed global-scale solidarity.

The EU played the lead role in the Paris climate accord and it provided all kinds of support for studies conducted by the UN, Meyer-Landrut said, adding the US inclusion made the agreement stronger again.

On Turkey’s environmental efforts, he praised its work to clean up water resources and considerably increased wastewater treatment and recycling capacities thanks to the nationwide zero-waste policy.

The EU official also underscored that Turkey took important steps in the energy field by using renewable sources more, such as solar and wind energy. The country’s fight against deforestation and efforts to increase forestland also played an essential role in the fight against climate change.

“Turkey and EU, as top economic partners, have many reasons to fight together against climate change,” he said, pointing out the shared geography, history, and tradition along with decades-long trade activities.

“We are neighboring the same geography like the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, we are exposed to similar climate risks such as flood, drought, sea-level rise, heat waves.”

‘Unprecedented climate volatility’

Also addressing the event was Alvaro Rodriguez, the officer-in-charge for the UN in Turkey.

He said the world is neither strong nor sustainable enough from an economic and social perspective on climate change and all actors are aware of its disruptions on the global level.

“The signs have never been clearer. We are facing a climate emergency. We are already witnessing unprecedented climate volatility, affecting lives...” Rodriguez said. “Nature always strikes back when it is struck… We need to work together and in solidarity.”

He also recalled the recent natural disasters in Turkey related to climate change, namely floods, dust storms and small tornadoes.

Turkey and the UN could cooperate on various fields, including management of natural resources, forests, and chemical and general waste, Rodriguez said, adding the UN mission in Turkey has always supported the Turkish government and nation in line with their strong partnership.

Both officials also expressed their condolences over the PKK killing 13 Turkish citizens in Gara, northern Iraq.

*Writing by Ali Murat Alhas

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