Which side of history will Turkey choose on climate change?
I went to the COP21 climate summit in Paris, invited by the TEMA Foundation.
The delegations worked for two weeks to try to agree on a joint action plan. The aim was to sign an agreement to limit global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius to stop climate change, which leads to natural disasters, death, migration and famine.
But there was the smell of dishonesty in the air. It is the poorest countries and people that are affected most by climate change. The historical responsibility falls most on the shoulders of the U.S. and Europe. They are the ones who had the highest emissions after the Industrial Revolution. That is why poor countries have been asking to add a compensation clause to the agreement.
The U.S. did not favor this. Europe hid behind the United States. It is rumored that the U.S. tried to convince small island states throughout the summit via “certain means” to abandon their insistence on including that clause.
However, even if the U.S. and Europe were to bring their gas emissions to zero, if developing countries like Turkey, China, India, and Brazil do not take responsibility, the aim to keep global warming under 1.5 C will not be able to be met. Everyone needs to take responsibility.
NGO representatives are complaining that the Turkish delegation came to the summit without working enough on the draft text, which had been public for nine months, and without bothering to exchange views with NGOs.
“The Turkish delegation has worked on the annexes, the finance and technological transfer. But it was not familiar with the text as a whole. In the meetings, it did not talk about the agreement in general. It was only focused on Turkey’s national position,” one NGO figure told me.
The gist of the matter is putting forward a political will. While many countries have set up a climate change ministry, in Turkey climate change is only one department within the Foreign Ministry.
And that department is brand new anyway.
Probably the delegation itself was not even convinced that Turkey will change its energy policies, which is why it was not very active in Paris. If it had been more active, someone would have come forward and asked, “What about your coal plants?”
Members of the European Parliament met with representatives of NGOs on the first day of the summit and listened to their opinions. This shows how, in contrast to us, they endorsed participatory policy-making methods.
The global definition of civilization is changing. If we want to be a civilized country in 2030, we need to make a transformation with a vision in accordance to that change.
Renewable energies, zero carbon emissions, a nature-friendly environment, smart cities, and smart transportation…
It is imperative that we protect our soil, forests, seas and biodiversity.
One way or another, there are only five to 10 years left to keep global warming due to climate change down to below 1.5 C.
In Paris I saw thousands of ordinary, mostly young people who are aware of the seriousness of the issue and who want climate justice. They were there outside the COP21 to demonstrate and apply pressure.
They were gathered outside of the building where many boring men in ties were meeting. “We want justice. We want revolutionary and reformist thinking. They don’t take us into the negotiation room. But we need to listen to each other,” they were saying.
I felt much more at home outside among them.
Time will show whether countries are honest or not. But in the end an agreement was struck to limit global warming to 1.5 C.
While Turkey will continue to aggressively invest in coal plants, the whole world agrees that the age of fossil fuels is over.
It was said in the corridors of the meeting that the only unhappy country was Turkey.
In the end, this agreement puts fossil fuels on the wrong side of history; we will see which side of history Turkey will choose to take with its energy policies.