Turkey Finally Ratifies The Paris Climate Agreement

The Grand National Assembly or Parliament of Turkey. Image Credit: Leonid Andronov/Shutterstock.com

Over five years since its signature, Turkey has finally ratified the Paris Climate Agreement, the last of the G20 nations to do so. The ratification, which was unanimous, came after the country raised several points about its placement with respect to the agreement.

Turkish environment and urbanization minister Murat Kurum said Wednesday that "'The Proposal for Approval of the Paris Climate Agreement' was unanimously accepted in the General Assembly of the Turkish Grand National Assembly," ahead of the COP26 Climate Change Conference in just a few weeks.

"[W]e wish that this step, which adds great strength to our fight against climate change and forms the basis of our 2053 Net Zero vision, will be beneficial."

Turkey being part of the G20 meant it was placed in the Annex I group of industrialized nations under the climate agreement. It held out against ratifying the agreement because this meant the country was obliged to do more on climate than developing nations. Speaking at the UN General Assembly last month, President Tayyip Erdogan announced that Turkey was going to ratify the agreement but that the countries that have polluted the most historically have the larger responsibility to tackle the crisis.

The 353 members of the Turkish parliament ratified the agreement on the approach that Turkey will be treated as a developing nation. As part of the Paris Agreement, those nations have access to investment, insurance, and technology transfer. In the statement approved by parliament, the country said it will implement the agreement on the condition that it won’t negatively affect its social and economic development.

The country has also sent a formal proposal to be removed from the Annex I group to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This will be discussed at COP26, held in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12.  A lot is riding on this conference when it comes to the global response to the climate crisis.

Opposition members have called into question whether Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) will actually enforce the ratification. Speaking in parliament, main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) member Dr Jale Nur Süllü said it was unclear what the result of ratifying the agreement as a developing nation would be if the country's change in status wasn't approved at the climate conference.

Even more critical was a member of the Workers' Party of Turkey. "Will you ban metallic mining in the Black Sea (region), for example? Will you turn back on ridiculous projects like Kanal Istanbul?... I know you won't," Sera Kadigil Sutlu said, reports Reuters.

Turkey, like many other places across the world, has experienced extreme weather events in the last few months such as fires and floods, killing tens of people, and devastating large swathes of the country. It appears the country is taking steps forward to mitigate the climate crisis, six years after the Paris Agreement was formed. 

Addressing President of COP26, Alok Sharma, on Twitter, Kurum said: "We will enhance our cooperation and take further steps for our planet in line with the Paris Agreement. There is much to be done and we are determined #COP26."

So far, not one of the world's largest emitting nations are meeting the Paris Agreement goals, despite heads of governments making such commitments. Five signatories of the agreement are yet to ratify it: Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen.

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