The Climate Council, which started on Monday and will continue until Friday in the central Konya province, will provide a basis for Turkey’s 2053 zero-emission and green development strategic goals.
"As humanity, we are at the last juncture. These are the last 10 years we have to change the state of affairs and we are the last generation to take advantage of this. Our cities are fighting rising sea levels, fires, droughts, water stress and other negative events that grow by the day,” Environment, Urbanism and Climate Change Minister Murat Kurum said during his speech at the council.
He pointed out that people have started migrating due to the impacts of climate change in the form of rising sea levels, fires and drought. It is estimated that around 216 million people will have relocated by 2050 to escape disasters. He added that climate migration of this magnitude will change the demographic structure of many countries, bringing with it many problems that will prove hard to solve.
“No state has the power to stop these social explosions, these huge disasters on its own. The world faces a critical threshold – this is to hold global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit)," he said. He added that to reach this target, carbon emissions need to be reduced by 45% by 2030 and must reach net-zero by 2050. All countries need to reduced their emissions by 7.6% per year to reach the goal by 2030.
Speaking on Turkey’s situation, Kurum said that due to the country’s location in the Mediterranean basin, it is among the countries with the highest risk in terms of the effects of global climate change. He reminded that Turkey last year faced extraordinary fires, floods and landslides at unprecedented levels.
“Climate change, in terms of its results, is no longer an issue of solely the environment, geophysics and ecology. It has become an issue of economy, finance and social policies and has turned into a question of development,” the minister emphasized.
Kurum stated that Turkey is not responsible for the state of climate change today but that the country has a sense of responsibility about what needs to be done in the future.
“As a necessity of this consciousness, we ratified the Paris Climate Agreement at the parliament’s general assembly on Oct. 6, 2021.”
The council is taking place 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 of 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 elaborated.
This council will also contribute to the climate legislation that will be developed as well as the basic policies for a road map on the decreasing of greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation to climate change.
The Climate Law, 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 transportation; the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture, waste, buildings and AKAKDO (land use, the change of land use and forestry); green financing and carbon pricing; adaptation to climate change; local administration; migration, fair transition and social policies and science and technology.
The minister also headed a session for youth and the climate ambassadors of several universities. The ambassadors then created a climate memorandum in which they voiced the demands and requests of the youth. The ambassadors asked for a transparent and participative process regarding their demands, which included raising awareness about the climate and environment through education, social and cultural projects, supporting research and development efforts in this regard, understanding the role of fragile groups and the effects climate change could have on them, not allowing investments that could negatively affect people’s health, planning for the treatment and adaptation of illnesses brought on by climate change and focusing on efforts to renew areas affected by natural disasters through ecological restoration.
“Turkey’s National Energy Policy, while decreasing importation dependency through ameliorating the security of supply, is giving priority to make use of renewable energy resources at the maximum. In this regard, we are one of the most successful countries in the world,” the minister said.
Kurum said that in the upcoming period, Turkey has to further increase the installation of storage, battery and intelligent networks as well as carry production facilities based on renewable energy resources to the highest point. “We have to accelerate efforts on rendering our cities’ energy infrastructures more fruitful and durable.”
The minister highlighted that the industrial sector should prioritize the extension of transition toward green production and the use of renewable energy as well as the use of alternative raw materials and fuel. "The use of green hydrogen should become more widespread in industry fields like iron and steel, cement, petrochemistry. We have to support products produced with alternative raw materials through public procurement,” Kurum said.
For the field of transportation, he said, the use of railways and hybrid vehicles must be increased while implementation of measures such as hydrogen transformation in fuel must become more widespread. He said steps should be taken to increase the popularity of sustainable means of transport such as bicycles, mass transport and other logistical means with zero emissions.
He also touched on the need to decrease the rate of waste, increase the use of renewable energy resources in new buildings and formation of infrastructure to enhance zero energy buildings with green building certificates.
Kurum elaborated that the efforts of the center must be reflected in the municipalities on the local level.
“Turkey has a total of 1,390 municipalities. Some of our metropolitan municipalities have been carrying out significant works in terms of reduction and adaptation efforts. We have to strengthen our provincial and district municipalities,” he said.
Indicating that complete mobilization is needed to fight climate change, Kurum said: “Therefore, units planning and administering the fight against climate change must be established in the subunits of local administrations. As of this year, the establishing of climate departments and zero waste directorates has become obligatory. At this point the duty of the council is to put forth ideas to solve the financial problems and legal regulations necessary to render our municipalities more influential.”
Turkey in October became the last country in the G-20 group of major economies to ratify the Paris climate agreement, after demanding for years that it must first be reclassified as a developing country, which would entitle it to funds and technological help.
The goal under the 2015 Paris Agreement is to limit the rise in global temperatures to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels while pursuing efforts to limit the rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Ankara signed the Paris accord in April 2016 but did not initiate the ratification process, arguing that it should not be deemed a developed country for the purposes of the accord and that it was responsible for a very small share of the historic carbon emissions.
The agreement came into force in Turkey on Nov. 10. Within this framework, Turkey will update its NDC, a climate action plan to cut emissions and adapt to climate impacts that is updated every five years.