Environmental stewardship in Turkey in 2022 and beyond

Turkey took a giant stride forward in its “green development revolution” by ratifying the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015, which aims to mitigate the severe effects of climate change. Environmental disasters in the summer of 2021, as well as lobbying from the European Union, pushed President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government to take immediate action to combat climate change. 

Erdogan’s statements at the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) gave a boost to Turkey’s unanimous parliamentary ratification of the Paris Agreement, reinforcing Ankara’s unwavering environmental commitment as a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP21 in Paris.  

The adoption of the Paris Agreement is a significant component of Turkey’s 2023 green development goals, which aim to meet EU membership standards, as well as its 2053 “Turkey model” vision of rights and justice, which prioritizes a net-zero carbon target. 

The historic ratification was hailed by Alok Sharma, president of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP26), who praised Erdogan’s efforts and Environment, Urban Planning, and Climate Change Minister Murat Kurum’s pledge to net-zero emissions by 2053. 

The G-20 and the Paris Agreement mandate ratifying countries to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. According to the Turkish State Meteorological Service (TSMS), average temperatures in Turkey are anticipated to rise by 2 degrees Celsius during the next decade. 

Many environmentalists believe Turkey can realistically renew its climate change obligations to reduce emissions by a more ambitious 25% rather than the current 21%. This is significant because Turkey ranks 16th among the countries with the highest per-capita greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Turkey must first set short-term climate targets by 2053 in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Turkey’s approval was required for trade with European Union states, which is currently facilitating Turkey-EU trade to help the economy recover. Ankara must connect itself more closely with the European Green Deal, reduce emissions through production relocation, and import/export less carbon-intensive products in order to best prepare for future trade with climate-sensitive EU partners. 

Ankara is already a signatory to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, the Montreal Protocol, the Rotterdam Convention, the Stockholm Convention on Organic Pollutants, the Kyoto Protocol, and the Barcelona Convention, so the ratification adds to its global environmental acclaim. 

The Turkish Environmental Agency (TUA), which is part of the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization, will implement a zero-waste management project to enhance the economy through recycling, in addition to Turkey’s 2015 Waste Management Regulation. The Zero Waste Project, led by First Lady Emine Erdogan, recycles 24.2 million tonnes of trash nationwide, with a goal of 60 % recycling recovery by 2035. Turkey intends to completely eliminate garbage disposal by 2050 by storing it first. 

Turkey continues to roll out smart city initiatives across the country, including energy-efficient, climate-sensitive housing, with houses built by Turkey’s Housing Development Administration (TOKI) being required to implement effective zero-waste practices using renewable energy resources. 

In the absence of ratification, Turkey’s legislation will be completely aligned with EU law and worldwide environmental norms. Turkey’s Regulation on Environmental Permits and Licenses was tightened and updated in 2014, and regulators must use a more strict approach in issuing environmental licenses. 

Ankara must revise its national climate action plan, formally known as the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), and submit it to the United Nations Secretariat, which includes emission reduction objectives for the “energy, waste, transportation, buildings, and agriculture” sectors. 

The country must now submit biannual climate reports to the Contract Secretariat, along with nationwide greenhouse gas inventories. Turkey aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 21% by 2030 under the agreement. Every five years, Turkey will be required to update its national contributions to combat climate change, with each update improving on the previous one. 

Turkey will now revise its national climate change action plan to include medium- to long-term goals for 2030 and 2050, as well as establish a climate change research center based on scientific data and a climate change platform for improving practices and cutting-edge technologies. 

A new climate road map dubbed the “Fight Against Climate Change Declaration,” was announced in February 2021, with the goal of supporting environmentally friendly production, encouraging waste recycling, conserving water, and regulating carbon pricing practices in line with the Paris Agreement’s economic incentives. 

Turkey’s Nation’s Garden project, which covers 81 million square meters (871 million square feet) in 81 provinces and includes 207 new parks in Istanbul, enables the country to increase green areas. Cities including as Batman, Bursa, Diyarbakr, Elaz, Sakarya, Samsun, and Trabzon also have parks. 

Turkey promises to enact a climate law to mitigate the negative effects of climate change in the “Climate Summit Final Declaration.” The climate bill that was presented to Parliament includes climate action plans for each of Turkey’s seven distinct regions. These seven action plans use climate change policy, legislative, and technical criteria to strategically coordinate the nation’s regions in order to produce local climate change action plans for towns. 

The proposed bill incorporates climate change targets and policies, upgrading the climate change action plan for 2050, and integrating mitigation methods for climate-sensitive sectors such as industry, livestock breeding, agriculture, tourism, and renewables. The law establishes an emission trading mechanism to reimburse facilities that invest in more environmentally friendly industrial methods. 

Following the ratification in Paris, Turkey’s legislation will be aligned with the European Green Deal, a framework for environmental reform in which all 27 EU member states promise to create Europe the world’s first “climate neutral” continent by 2050, with emissions reduced by 55 percent by 2030. 

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