Climate Council to determine Turkey’s zero-emissions and green goals

The Climate Council, which kicked off Monday and will run until Friday in the central province of Konya, will provide a basis for Turkey’s green and zero-emissions strategic development goals for 2053.

“As humanity, we are at the last stage. This is the last 10 years, we have to change the situation and we are the last generation to benefit from it. Our cities are struggling against rising sea levels, fires, drought, water stress and other negative events that are growing day by day,” Minister of Environment, Town Planning and Climate Change Murat Kurum said during his address to the council.

He pointed out that people have started to migrate due to the impacts of climate change in the form of sea level rise, fires and drought. It is estimated that around 216 million people will have been displaced by 2050 to escape disasters. He added that a climate migration of this magnitude will change the demographic structure of many countries, bringing with it many problems that will prove difficult to solve.

“No single state has the power to stop these social explosions, these huge catastrophes on its own. The world is facing a critical threshold – it is about keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit),” he said. He added that to achieve this goal, carbon emissions must be reduced by 45% by 2030 and must reach net-zero by 2050. All countries must reduce their emissions by 7.6% per year to reach the goal by 2030.

“Turkey faces a high risk from climate change”

Speaking on Turkey’s situation, Kurum said that due to the country’s location in the Mediterranean basin, it is one of the countries most at risk in terms of the effects of global climate change. He recalled that last year Turkey faced extraordinary fires, floods and landslides at unprecedented levels.

“Climate change, in terms of outcomes, is no longer just a matter of environment, geophysics and ecology. It has become a matter of economics, finance and social policy and it has become a matter of development,” the minister stressed.

Kurum said Turkey is not responsible for the current state of climate change, but the country has a sense of responsibility for what needs to be done in the future.

“As a necessity of this awareness, we ratified the Paris climate agreement during the general assembly of parliament on October 6, 2021.”

The council is held in Konya, which is one of the provinces most affected by the negative consequences of climate change. It will bring together more than 1,000 participants, including climate ambassadors from 209 universities, celebrities and mayors as well as experts.

Konya has faced drought, aridity, huge sinkholes and the risk of losing its lakes, the minister explained.

This advice will also contribute to the climate legislation that will be developed as well as the basic policies of a roadmap on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation to climate change.

The Climate Law, the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) and the Long-Term Climate Change and Action Plan will be completed based on the results of the council.

Meetings will be held on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the fields of energy, industry and transport; reducing greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture, waste, buildings and AKAKDO (land use, land use change and forestry); green finance and carbon pricing; adaptation to climate change; local government; migration, just transition and social policies and science and technology.

The minister also led a session for young people and climate ambassadors from several universities. The ambassadors then created a climate memorandum in which they voiced the demands and demands of the youth. Ambassadors called for a transparent and participatory process regarding their applications, which included raising climate and environmental awareness through educational, social and cultural projects, supporting research and development efforts in this regard, understanding of the role of fragile groups and the effects of climate change could have on them, by prohibiting investments that could negatively affect people’s health, by planning the treatment and adaptation of diseases caused by climate change and by focusing on efforts to renew areas affected by natural disasters through ecological restoration.

Minister of Environment, Town Planning and Climate Change Murat Kurum speaks during the Youth Session of the Climate Council in central province of Konya, Turkey, February 21, 2022. (Photo YY)

“Turkey’s national energy policy, while reducing import dependency by improving security of supply, prioritizes the maximum use of renewable energy resources. In this regard, we are one of the best performing countries in the world,” the minister said.

“Industry and transport should lead green driving”

Kurum said that in the coming period, Turkey still needs to increase the installation of storage, battery and smart grids, as well as bring to the highest point production facilities based on renewable energy resources. “We must accelerate efforts to make the energy infrastructure of our cities more successful and sustainable.”

The Minister underlined that the industrial sector should prioritize the extension of the transition towards green production and the use of renewable energies as well as the use of raw materials and alternative fuels. “The use of green hydrogen is expected to become widespread in industrial fields like steel, cement, petrochemicals. We must support products made with alternative raw materials through public procurement,” Kurum said.

For the field of transport, he said, the use of railways and hybrid vehicles must be increased while the implementation of measures such as the transformation of hydrogen into fuel must be generalized. He said steps should be taken to increase the popularity of sustainable means of transport such as bicycles, public transport and other zero-emission logistics.

He also spoke of the need to reduce the rate of waste, increase the use of renewable energy resources in new buildings, and the formation of infrastructure to upgrade zero-energy buildings with green building certificates.

Kurum explained that the efforts of the center must be reflected in the municipalities at the local level.

“Turkey has a total of 1,390 municipalities. Some of our metropolitan municipalities have done significant work in terms of reduction and adaptation efforts. We need to strengthen our provincial and district municipalities,” he said.

Stating that full mobilization is needed to tackle climate change, Kurum said, “Therefore, climate change planning and administration units should be established in sub-units of local governments. Since this year, the establishment of climate management and zero waste management has become mandatory. At this point, the council’s duty is to come up with ideas to solve the financial problems and legal regulations necessary to make our municipalities more influential.

Turkey in October became the latest country in the G-20 group of major economies to ratify the Paris climate accord, after years of demanding that it first be reclassified as a developing country, which would entitle him to funds and technological assistance.

The goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement is to limit the rise in global temperatures to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels while continuing efforts to limit the rise to 1 .5 degrees Celsius.

Ankara signed the Paris agreement in April 2016 but did not start the ratification process, arguing that it should not be considered a developed country for the purposes of the agreement and that it was responsible for a very small share of historical carbon emissions.

The agreement entered into force in Turkey on 10 November. As part of this, Turkey will update its NDC, a climate action plan to reduce emissions and adapt to climate impacts which is updated every five years.

Sharon P. Juarez