Turkey has strongly opposed the ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change for more than five years under Recep Tayyip Erdogan but, late on September 21 in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the Turkish president announced that this resistance will end in October, when his country’s parliament passes the necessary legislation.
So what has changed? Erdogan wasn’t entirely clear on this, but it doesn’t take a keen observer to spot a president facing an election by June 2023 and struggling in opinion polls amid economic malaise and beyond. a summer of shocking forest fires and flash floods that his administration, in the eyes of most Turks, was alarmingly unprepared. Add to this a scorching and prolonged drought and pollution by “sea snot”, exacerbated by rising temperatures, which has spread across the Sea of Marmara, as well as the millions of Turkish teenagers who will vote for it. first time in the presidential election. , and, in fact, you could say that what has changed is pretty clear.
And that is not to mention the struggle that Erdogan, in a way a friend of former US President Donald Trump, is waging to try to convince the current occupant of the White House and fan of the Paris Agreement, Joe Biden, that Turkey can be a reliable ally.
It’s not as if Erdogan has to bow for deciding to ratify the Paris Agreement, because the other 19 G20 member countries have already ratified it.
But Erdogan being Erdogan, the dear leader couldn’t resist a bit of elation, telling his audience at the UN: “I would like to announce to the whole world here from the UN General Assembly the decision that we have followed up on the progress made under the agreement. We plan to submit the Paris Climate Agreement for approval to our parliament next month. “
The fact that November brings the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) to Glasgow also weighed on Erdogan’s mind. Getting there without the seal of ratification could have been awkward.
Besides the sense of urgency to ‘fix the climate’ generated by the doomsday scenes Turkey endured during the summer at the hands of abnormal weather conditions, the country receives regular reminders from the clean energy lobby that it is. one of the biggest producers and burners of atmosphere. -gumming of coal in the world.
The day after Erdogan’s speech at the UN, another followed from Europe Beyond Coal. Releasing a response to the speech and also to China’s announced pledge to end its support for new overseas coal projects, the NGO said Turkey must now establish a roadmap to let the coal behind it.
Coal addicted country
Some 73% of the coal-fired power plants planned in OECD countries are in Turkey, the coal-dependent country with the fifth highest number of planned coal-fired power plants in the world. On a more positive note, coal projects with a total capacity of 62 GW have been canceled in Turkey since 2015 as banks increasingly shy away from such investments.
Linking Erdogan’s and Beijing’s commitments, Duygu Kutluay, an activist for Europe Beyond Coal, said, “China’s commitment to end overseas support for coal marks the end of the new coal in Turkey. means that he has to plan for a total exit from coal this decade.
“Turkey has enormous renewable energy potential. With this historic climate commitment, we now have the happy challenge of making a bold transition away from coal, and towards clean energy. It will improve the health of our people, protect us. more tragic wildfires, and show that we will do our part for international climate action. “
Let’s end with a few more calming words from Erdogan: “Turkey, which does not remain indifferent to any problem, crisis or global call, will also do its part in terms of climate change and environmental protection.
“[…] as the Earth embraces millions of living species on its soil, it expects us to respect the balance of nature in return for this bounty. “