by Serhat S. Cubukcuoglu:
Turkey is a developed OECD country in the league of G-20 with close to 4% projected GDP growth rate per annum in 2016-17.[i] Global warming due to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions constitute a common problem of mankind and draws attention from countries at the top of the industrial league to emerging ones alike, and Turkey is no exception to this. Since 1994, UNFCCC[ii] treaty obliges adopting parties to reduce the impact of global warming caused by human activities through “common but differentiated responsibilities.” Ten years after its inauguration, Turkey ratified only the Annex-I of the UNFCCC in 2004 and is therefore exempted from the obligation to undertake GHG emissions reduction commitments.[iii] Likewise, after tense negotiations and only then in 2009 following the third conference of the parties (COP3), Turkey became a signatory to Kyoto Protocol, but limited its responsibility to Annex I of the UNFCCC without introducing new commitments.
Research reveals that 71% of CO2 emissions in Turkey are caused by the industry and coal-based power plants[iv] that contribute to 29% of electricity generation. On the global scale, well-established scientific evidence shows that the world’s human-induced GHG emissions, of which CO2 makes up 80%,[v] that cause an enhanced greenhouse effect come from combustion of fossil fuels. These facts provide invaluable forecast about risks and courses of possible action to insure against them. By looking at current trends, it is not difficult to estimate that production of conventional oil & gas will peak and decline in the 21st century. Economic growth, prosperity, and better lives will be made possible with low carbon-footprint.
The UNFCCC COP21 summit in 2016, held in Paris, set a cornerstone in global energy revolution as for the first time, it brought 175 countries into a common cause to curb net CO2 emissions and limit global temperature rise to 2°C, however optimistic this target may still seem to be. Adoption of renewable and clean energy technologies plays a key role to implement this action plan. From that perspective, Turkey’s active participation and contribution to gradually phase out coal and fuel power to replace them with solar, wind, geothermal, and hydropower will help preserve the environment for our future generations and for the world as a whole. As a growing economy, Turkey has demonstrated significant progress in its efforts to combat climate change through sustainable development principle, which is to “meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.[vi] Turkey should continue to foster environmentally friendly, innovative policies to decarbonize energy through market liberalization, public-private partnerships, technology transfer, carbon taxation, and financial assistance for green investments. With Paris accord, Turkey has declared to commit up to 21% further reduction in carbon emissions rate from its current levels by 2030.[vii] It is crucial to emphasize that Paris COP21 is a non-binding treaty and intended national contributions are determined solely by each participating country on a voluntary basis. It is expected that the treaty will be ratified by signatories and enter into force within the next year.