The decisions that will be taken following Turkey's first Climate Council will shape the country's future as part of the fight against climate change, said an official with the Energy and Natural Resources Ministry.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA) on Turkey's policies toward the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and its target for net zero emissions by 2053, Abdullah Buğrahan Karaveli, the head of the Department of Energy Efficiency and Environment at the Energy and Natural Resources Ministry, highlighted the importance of timing regarding the first Climate Council.
"The Climate Council is (taking place) at a very crucial time, to form the key elements to plan Turkey's next 30, 40, 50 years, which road maps should be followed, what should be done in which sector, what should not be done, what kind of method should be followed, here are all discussed," he noted.
Mentioning that since combating climate change is directly paired with greenhouse gas reduction, with the key sectors also energy, industry and transportation, Karaveli reminded that net-zero carbon emissions mean balancing emissions of carbon dioxide with its removal through forests as a carbon sink.
To achieve this, it is necessary to carry out significant and very high-level work in all sectors, said Karaveli, who is also head of the first session of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction commissions (Energy, Transport and Industry).
"There have been very valuable, constructive discussions, and what should be done in line with the plans based on scientific knowledge and data is listed step by step, and with the decisions taken as a result of this council, the next 30, 40, 50 years of Turkey will be shaped," he said.
Turkey's first Climate Council kicked off on Monday to establish a road map in line with the Paris Agreement to reach net-zero emissions by 2053. The event will end on Friday.
Over 1,000 representatives of public institutions and universities, scientists, businesspeople, farmers, and activists attended the event.
Noting that Turkey is a developing and growing country, as both its population and economy are growing steadily, Karaveli said its energy demand is growing above the world average at the same time.
"For example, while the growth in energy demand in the world due to COVID-19 decreased in 2020, it increased in Turkey as part of electricity. In 2021, while the world average grew by 4.5%, Turkey's electricity demand grew by more than 8% ... These are the challenges of the process," he said.
Underlining that the energy sector has priorities such as reducing foreign dependency and energy costs, he added that now, as reducing greenhouse gas emissions is added to these priorities, the energy sector is being subjected to some tests to define what needs to be done to move the country toward the target set in this direction.
"The main thing to do and the most important way to tackle carbon emissions is to minimize the demands of energy in sectors such as industry, transportation, buildings, and agriculture by reducing the energy input without limiting the service and product quality, production," he said.
In other words, he added, the most important thing that can be done here is to minimize the demand for energy in Turkey by taking steps at the highest level as part of savings and efficiency.
In response to a question on how decreasing energy demand would be possible in a growing population, Karaveli pointed to the efficiency and saving behaviors at the individual level as he underlined those things done at the micro scale bring changes at the macro scale.
"The opinion that carbon emissions will only decrease if the world economy and population will not grow further is not correct. The goal here is to minimize the demand," he stressed, referring to figures from the International Energy Agency showing that the world will grow by 40% until 2050 while energy demand should decrease by 7%.
On renewable energy, which is one of the efficient ways toward realizing a healthy climate, Karaveli said it constitutes 54% of the country's total installed power and renewable energy has a share of around 40% in electricity generation.
"Therefore, Turkey ranks 12th in the world and fifth in Europe as part of renewable energy installed power and first in geothermal energy and ranks No. 1 in hydropower across Europe," he noted.
Saying that these figures prove how quickly Turkey has adapted to renewable energy, Karaveli added that it is necessary to increase the speed in this transformation further for the future.
"Turkey has a much higher renewable potential compared to Europe, and since the obstacles are much less and the opportunities are much more, the country can more easily maximize the use of renewable energy," he said.
Calling on youth to follow the council carefully as well as its outcomes and build their own careers on these issues, Karaveli said the next 30 to 50 years of the world are planned.
He concluded that if young people also closely follow technological developments around the climate change issue, they may be the future of Turkey and may develop the country, as half of the technology to be used in the field has not been developed yet.
Onur Ünlü, Head of the Energy Efficiency and Management Association (EYODER), speaking at the Climate Council, stated that the demand for energy efficiency has increased both in the public and private sectors in the face of increasing energy costs all over the world.
“We expect a very serious jump in the energy efficiency sector this year,” he told AA.
He said the EYODER brings together energy efficiency consultancy firms operating in the sector, authorized by the ministry and supports the expansion of this market.
Noting that Turkey can be a pioneer in the field of energy efficiency, Ünlü said, “Maybe we may have entered the industrial revolution late or we may have missed many eras, but we are on the same starting line with other countries in the 'green transformation' and combating climate change phase. We have the chance to get ahead and become a world leader in this field.”
Noting that energy consumption can be reduced with savings, which will provide significant returns for the country, Ünlü stated that it is possible to reduce energy consumption by 10% with that method.