Turkey to face pressure over Paris climate deal

As the world marked the fifth anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement with a summit over the weekend, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged all governments around the world to declare a state of climate emergency until the planet reached net zero CO2 emissions.

With the coronavirus pandemic openly demonstrating the need for global action on transnational problems, one should expect that countries will draw lessons from that and that humanity will unite in efforts to reduce global warming.

But Guterres made clear that the pledges by the governments were far from enough to limit temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius, warning that the world risks heading “toward a catastrophic temperature rise of more than 3.0 degrees this century.”

For many reasons, global climate change is not among the topics discussed every day in our country. Discussions about environmental issues occur in a narrow perspective that does not touch on the impacts of the heavy use of carbon fuels and traditional energy resources on climate change.

Turkey has signed the Paris Climate Agreement but has yet to ratify it, since the deal places it among developed countries, thereby obliging it to provide financial resources to assist developing countries implement the convention’s objectives.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan explained Turkey’s stance on the agreement at a press conference with journalists during his trip to Baku last week. Asked about the matter, Erdoğan recalled that France and Germany had promised to work to include Turkey among developing countries but that they never kept their pledge.

Erdoğan added that Turkey was pressured at the recent G20 summit in Saudi Arabia to ratify the deal, saying “They are always trying to impose on us. ‘Let it be 20 out of 20. Let’s do this,’ they say. I said, ‘I’m sorry, if you want 20 out of 20, it should be with the approval of 20 out of 20. You do not approve it, but you corner us and say, ‘Come say yes to this’ and ‘Let them say that the Riyadh G20 meeting ended successfully’.”

Turkey is the only nation in the G20 that has not ratified the agreement and as Erdoğan said, pressure from other members will surely continue in the coming period.

“Now, this issue will be put before us again at the meeting in London. Of course, we will make our comment in the widest sense there because they want to trap us in the status of developed countries,” he said, referring to the 2021 global climate summit slated to take place in November in the United Kingdom.

Just to recall: France and Germany had proposed a financial package to Turkey with the support of the United Nations and the World Bank in 2019 in return for the latter’s ratification of the agreement. Obviously, the package was deemed insufficient by Turkey.

Erdoğan is right that more pressure is likely to be imposed on countries that have not signed or ratified the agreement in the coming period. The new U.S. administration under President-elect has already announced that it will take a decisive stance concerning global warming as former Secretary of State John Kerry will be appointed as the country’s special climate envoy to restore American credibility on the matter.

Plus, the G20’s 2021 term president, Italy, will focus on three interconnected pillars of action: people, planet and prosperity.

“The G20 will also pave the way towards the 26th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26), a key milestone in the global fight against climate change, which will be co-hosted by Italy and the United Kingdom,” reads the Italian manifesto toward the G20’s goals.

The COP26 summit in Glasgow will take place in early November 2021, just days after the G20 Summit to be hosted by Italy in Rome. Turkey, as the only G20 member that has not ratified the agreement, will surely face more pressure from these countries throughout the next year.

Engaging in a genuine dialogue with Italy and the United Kingdom in a bid to implement the climate convention is Turkey’s responsibility to nature and to future generations. For their part, Italy and the United Kingdom, which enjoy good relations with Turkey, should submit new ideas to ensure the latter joins the global efforts.

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