Turkey: A reluctant signatory of Paris climate accord?

Turkey: A reluctant signatory of Paris climate accord?

“For the first time, every country in the world has pledged to curb emissions, strengthen resilience and join in common cause to take climate action, What was once unthinkable has become unstoppable,” Ban Ki-moon, U.N. Secretary General tweeted following the climate accord in Paris.

U.S. President Barack Obama too wrote, “This is huge: Almost every country in the world just signed the Paris Agreement-thanks to American leadership.” 

Having already drawn international attention for the most gruesome terrorist attack only weeks ago, Paris became a physical venue of perhaps the most promising global agreement to protect the world from an imminent disaster following two weeks of talks, pressures and last minute deals. Some 195 countries agreed to co-sign this first universal agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to set goals to limit temperature rises to below 2 degrees Celsius by 2020. 

According to Western media, the final outcome of the summit hung in balance until the last moment. As the Guardian newspaper reports, tense exchanges took place behind closed doors between oil-producing countries such as Saudi Arabia and Russia and a coalition of U.S. and Europeans; it took “two weeks of intense negotiations, capped off by three sleepless nights, with Barack Obama and Hollande phoning other leaders to bring them on their side with the deal,” the Guardian claimed.

In the end, almost 200 countries agreed that global carbon emissions should start to fall as soon as possible; that in the second half of the century, carbon dioxide emissions must be reduced to levels that can be absorbed by forests; that all countries would be monitored for their policies on emissions; that developed countries as of 2020 would help poorer countries with a $100 billion of annual aid to switch to clean energy sources and deal with disasters. 

The spirit in Paris was that of determination among political leaders to find a common ground, a long way from the days of Kyoto with its deep divisions between rich and poor countries.  

The Paris Agreement now has to be approved by the governments of at least 55 countries that are responsible for at least 55 percent of the world greenhouse gas emissions, like the U.S., China and India. Will the U.S. approve and endorse it? During Clinton’s presidency, the U.S. approved the 1997 Kyoto Protocol but did not endorse it. Clinton did not bring it to congress for fear it would be rejected by the Republicans. But there is every reason to believe that this is not to be the case with President Obama. 

There is no doubt that the Paris Agreement was a major step in the right direction, a step which should create a new awareness of the imminent natural dangers for our planet, if nothing is done against global warming.

There are some weak points, though. One is a mechanism of “losses and damages” as demanded by the developing countries, but rejected by the U.S. 

The success of the agreement will depend on the cooperative spirit by each individual country to revise its policies and adjust them accordingly. Was Turkey among them?

All participant countries submitted their national plans towards improvement on the climate change issue before the Paris Summit. According to a Heinrich Böll Stifftung report, Turkey’s position was rather based on a view point that it is a country “with special conditions.” Turkey was among a small percentage of countries (14 percent) who presented no climate change adaptations in their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) for the Paris Conference. This is an “irony,” states the report, since even China is committed to act upon the problem by 2030. And this, when Turkey accounted for 0.97 percent of global gas emissions in 2012 and its per capita emissions will surpass most large countries by 2.