Take climate seriously now!

Take climate seriously now!

Turkey has to cope with ever increasing losses due to climate change. Local governments should declare their climate friendly policies.

The Haiyan typhoon that struck Philippines left behind thousands dead, millions homeless and a wretched country; the disaster coincided with the 19th session of the Climate Conference of the Parties (COP 19) that was held in Warsaw, fueling global climate change discussions.

Turkey is receiving its share of climate change albeit it may not be as much as island countries.

It has been declared many times in several reports that climate change will cause damages that will be very hard to repair. Despite this, not too many people take it seriously.

We have not adopted long-term climate friendly targets in such sectors as energy, transportation, housing and waste. This negligence not only threatens the country’s economy but also the future of its citizens.

At the local level, we have two municipalities that have started working to decrease carbon emissions. One is Bornova from İzmir; the other is Tepebaşı from Eskişehir. Furthermore, Kadıköy municipality (Istanbul) has taken the first step and has taken an “inventory of its carbon emissions.”

In the Civilian Climate Summit held in Ankara two weeks ago, Turkey’s national and local climate targets were determined:

1 - You should say ‘no’ to this dangerous course: Turkey’s greenhouse gas emissions have increased 124 percent from 1990 to 2011. This dangerous increase is threatening our lives. We are witnessing closely the frequency and the strength of extreme weather-related events, with instances of floods, heat waves, drought and twisters on the rise.

2 - We have to decrease it by 15 percent. Turkey has to decrease greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change by at least 15 percent until 2020 (according to 2011 data). Experts agree that this target could be reached without forming new hydroelectric, thermic and nuclear power plants. Indeed, if energy productivity and savings could be effectively implemented in all sectors.

3 - Local governments should act immediately: Each municipality should take its greenhouse gas inventory and should target to decrease it by15 percent until 2020.

4 - A solution is possible: First, the consumption of coal, oil and natural gas should be decreased. There should be carbon-neutral practices introduced to transportation and housing. Policies on recycling, reduction and reuse in the waste sector should rapidly be implemented. With all of these, we can achieve it.

5- Climate friendly local governance: We demand that all political party candidates for local governments should include the 15 percent reduction of greenhouse emission target in their election declarations. (For more information www.iklimzirvesi.org<http://www.iklimzirvesi.org>)
The below are some points takes from Professor Mikdat Kadıoğlu’s preface of the report “Risk Management in Turkey’s Climate Change”:

- Natural disasters that are expected to increase in Turkey associated with climate change: extreme meteorological incidents, forest fires, storms, floods, hails, heat waves, landslides and avalanches.

- In our country, economic losses caused by floods connected to climate change have become equal to economic losses caused by earthquakes.

- Deaths caused by lightning strikes during storms have shown a sharp increase over the last few years to 400.

Mehveş Evin is a columnist for daily Milliyet in which this piece appeared on Dec 3. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.