Turkey stuck on its ‘special demands’ in climate talks

Turkey stuck on its ‘special demands’ in climate talks

It is clear to many that climate talks under the U.N. are not satisfactory for the global community, even though the Paris Agreement on climate change is underway. Still, the global trend has shifted to a low-carbon economy through the Agreement, and this process has already started to shape the new climate regime globally. 

After a historic approval process, the Paris Agreement entered into force on Dec. 4, 2016 after ratification by at least 55 Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), accounting for at least an estimated 55 percent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions. Following the early entry into force of the Agreement, there were discussions about how to implement the post-2020 roadmap. 

The 22nd Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC, which was held between Nov. 7 and 18, 2016 in Marrakech, was therefore essential to discuss the implementation process of the Agreement. During the COP 22, governments set a rapid deadline of 2018 to complete the rules mentioned under the Agreement through the Marrakech Action Proclamation. Several countries are translating their national objectives into a low-emission economy. For example, the U.S. presented a roadmap for mitigation targets of under 80 percent by 2050. Mexico, as a developing country, also set a clear pathway including a mitigation target of 50 percent by 2050. 

Furthermore, these days all eyes of the global community are already turned to the G20 Summit, which will be held in July 2017 in Hamburg. Germany has presented the need for rapid global climate action as its key priority during the G2O. They say growth alone is not important– the type and quality of growth also matters. For this reason, the G20 is pursuing the goal of improving economies’ sustainability and will address topics such as protecting climate and advancing sustainable energy supply, making progress on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, empowering women, promoting health and seizing the opportunities of digital technology. 

More importantly, the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Paris Agreement are two political milestones setting a new global policy framework for all Parties. Therefore, Turkey as a candidate to the EU needs to take part in this process by providing a clean roadmap for its climate actions as soon as possible. However, Turkey still has a low performance in its climate change policy during the negotiations under the UN. Its persistence in focusing on its “special demands” limit its efforts to tackle global climate change. 

Turkey’s demands at the UN talks

What are these “special demands”? 

Even though Turkey, as an OECD country, is listed in Annex I in the UNFCCC, it cannot participate in flexibility mechanisms within the scope of the UNFCCC regime. Therefore, Turkey has asked for a special recognition under the Convention and the Paris Agreement: Turkey’s demands were mainly based on a “differentiation” and “finance” clause during the COP meetings. In the latest meeting of the U.N. climate talks in Marrakech, Turkey requested to be considered a “developing country.” It also asked developed countries for financial support to meet its national mitigation target (up to 21 percent reduction in emissions from business as usual level by 2030). However, Turkey’s demands were not addressed in either the Paris Agreement or the outcomes of COP 22. 

According to Article 2 of the Paris Agreement, developing countries should continue enhancing their mitigation targets while developed countries should take the lead by reducing their emissions. It actually constitutes one of the main rules of the Agreement that Turkey should follow, while shaping its national objectives. Turkey should certainly translate its long-term plans into more ambitious policies consistent with the Agreement. Instead of focusing on national demands, Turkey should ratify the Agreement as soon as possible. This is crucial for the country - not only for reducing emissions at the national level but also for having space to move in the new post-2020 regime.  

Scientific numbers also show that rapid action in Turkey matters. According to the Turkish Statistics Institute, total CO2 emissions increased by 125 percent between 1990 and 2014. Moreover, even though Turkey plans to increase the use of renewable energy sources in its electricity production, it also plans to open and/or explore new coal plants and increase the efficiencies of existing coal-fired thermal power plants until 2023.

* İlge Kıvılcım is a researcher at the Economic Development Foundation (IKV).