Turkey is a leading country in its region in renewable energy use, the nation's president said Monday.
"Turkey is well aware that fighting climate change requires taking local action," President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, adding that the country has significantly increased the use of natural gas by replacing coal in 81 provinces.
"Currently, we are meeting more than 30% of the electricity through renewable energy," Erdoğan explained, as he vowed to boost the current rate to 39% by 2023.
Speaking at a climate change summit at the U.N. headquarters, Erdoğan said, "Climate change is a global issue whose solutions require regional and international cooperation."
He noted that individuals are obliged to protect and hand the planet to the next generation the way they received it.
The president explained Turkey's efforts and contribution to deal with climate-related issues. In this regard, the country is co-leading the Infrastructure, Cities and Location Action (ICLA) working group with the support of U.N. Habitat.
In a bid to reduce greenhouse emissions and solve traffic congestion, Turkey is building subway lines and will step up the length of intercity railway systems by 50%, said the president.
The country also planted over 4 billion trees in the past 17 years and aims to plant 11 million more trees on Nov. 11 alone and has reduced plastic bag consumption by 75% in line with environmental goals.
"One of our 2023 targets is to increase forest areas to 30% of the total area," he said.
Turkey is also minimizing disaster risk while building climate-sensitive and energy-efficient cities, the president added.
Erdoğan said the Zero Waste Project, initiated by first lady Emine Erdoğan, has been adopted in all cities and institutions across the country.
"We are expanding the Zero Waste Project in all of Turkey. By 2023, we will have switched to a zero waste system in nearly 400,000 buildings," he said. "We will increase the recovery rate of recycling from 13% to 35%."
Turkey is also working on road maps to make new buildings carbon neutral by 2030 and existing buildings by 2050.
Erdoğan is in New York to attend the 74th session of the U.N. General Assembly.
TURKEY'S FIRST LADY MEETS U.N. ENVIRONMENT CHIEF
Late Monday in New York, Turkey's first lady had a "productive" meeting with the head of the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP), Inger Andersen, where they discussed environmental issues such as recycling projects.
"We had a productive meeting today with executive director of the U.N. Environment Program, Inger Andersen, as part of the 74th session of the U.N. General Assembly," she said.
"We discussed our Zero Waste Project as well as cooperation between our Ministry of Environment and the UNEP," the first lady shared on Twitter.
She said they exchanged views on reducing carbon emissions, protecting marine biodiversity, plastic and air pollution, and Turkey's Zero Waste Project, which the first lady has spearheaded. "I was pleased by Ms. Andersen's kind invitation to the Ocean Summit in 2020," set to be held in Lisbon, Portugal next June, she added.