A ‘lonely and beautiful country’ in Durban

A ‘lonely and beautiful country’ in Durban

Excitement is at its most extreme in the South African city of Durban at the United Nations Climate Change Conference. A text was drafted by U.N. member countries at the end of two weeks of negotiations. Final corrections will be made on the 100-page text, and then the result will be published. 

However, Turkey has objected to the entire text. The reason for this is Turkey has only one aim in this summit, and that aim is to leave the group it has been included in. What is this group? Turkey is among the Annex 1 countries that cannot benefit from climate funds. European Union countries, Russia, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are in this group. 

For this reason, the Turkish government’s entire aim and energy are directed toward leaving this group and benefiting from at least some financial support, as do some developing countries such as China, India and Brazil. 

However, we are unfortunately late for this. We have started paying the bill for not developing an active policy about climate for years. 

What is Turkey’s complaint? 

The Turkish delegation defined the situation as a “real headache” during my interview with them. “How can we limit emissions while we are growing so fast? We are a developing country. We want to do our part. But these circumstances are not fair,” they said. 

The point Turkey emphasized constantly during the summit is that it has reduced greenhouse gas emission by 20 percent since 1990. But this figure is not the result of a special effort against climate change. Both the economic crises we experienced during the past 20 years and also the conversion to natural gas have been influential in this. How? Let me explain. 

The secret of 20 percent 

Speaking at an activity organized by the Turkish Industry & Business Association (TÜSİAD) in Durban, Zorlu Energy’s CEO Murat Sungur Bursa said merely converting from coal to natural gas in heating has decreased Turkey’s carbon emissions by 20 percent compared to 1990. 

But according to the 2009 report the government submitted to the U.N., we have increased carbon emission 98 percent compared to 1990. Why it is increasing? 

If Turkey had not converted to natural gas, today it would have emitted 2.5 times more carbon to the atmosphere compared to 1990. By converting to natural gas, we have “only” increased it twice. The calculation 20 percent comes from this. 

No active policy 

As you can see, even though it says it has good intentions, Turkey is not very credible on the subject of climate when looking at the figures as well as its policies it has submitted. Before anything else, everybody has to clean their own yard. 

Turkey, with its new energy investments, will have record increases in its carbon emissions in the very near future. Instead of nurturing a desire for other countries’ opportunities, it is a must that we should review our own climate policy. 

As award-winning film director Nuri Bilge Ceylan said, we are a “lonely and beautiful country.” But we should stop looking for its reason anywhere far. Otherwise, there will not be any beauty left. 
Mehveş Evin is a columnist for daily Milliyet in which this piece appeared Dec.9.

MEHVEŞ EVİN -  mehves.evin@milliyet.com.tr

It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.