A difficult relationship – Turkey’s climate policy at this year’s climate summit in Bonn

A difficult relationship – Turkey’s climate policy at this year’s climate summit in Bonn

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The reason why Turkey is not among those developing countries eligible for climate finance is the appendix system which was adopted by UNFCCC at 1992 and the system is ended with Paris Agreement. But under this appendix system Turkey as an OECD country was considered as developing country which has many duties on to contribute funding of technology and capacity building to under develop countries. 

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The 23rd Conference of Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Conventions on Climate Change (UNFCCC) took place in Germany in November. While an agreement to combat climate change was signed in 2015 in Paris, the countries are now negotiating on the Paris Rule Book, which is an implementation plan.

When looking at Turkey’s climate change policy, it is worth emphasizing that Turkey is – together with Russia – one of only G20 countries that has not ratified the Paris agreement. Despite having presented an intended national determined contribution (INDC) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions ahead of the COP21 and signing the Paris Agreement on 22 April 2016 in New York, Turkey has still not approved the Paris agreement in parliament. Turkey stated that one of the core principles of its 2010-2023 Climate Change Strategy would be to make a contribution towards reducing global greenhouse gasses. Additionally, all governing bodies have promised to harmonize their policies with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDC) and develop policies for action on climate change based on these goals.

However what Turkey seeks is access to international climate funds, saying that they are key to follow through with its commitments to reduce carbon emissions. One of Turkey’s main reasons for not ratifying the Paris Agreement is its inability to access climate funds on the conditions that it wants.

The reason why Turkey is not among those developing countries eligible for climate finance is the appendix system which was adopted by UNFCCC at 1992 and the system is ended with Paris Agreement. But under this appendix system Turkey as an OECD country was considered as developing country which has many duties on to contribute funding of technology and capacity building to under develop countries. At beginning Turkey was both Appendix 1 (industrialized and developing) and Appendix 2 (developed) system that is why Turkey did not become a party of UNFCCC until 2001 after getting out from Appendix 2 with a decision of ‘special circumstances’. After this decision taken by UNFCCC Turkey become a party of UNFCCC but being a Appendix 1 OECD county still hinders Turkey to reach some certain funding mechanism such as very last body of climate finance Green Climate Fund. The Appendix 1 countries are not eligible for GCF or GCF cooperation funding mechanisms even though Turkey is stated as a country with special circumstances under UNFCCC. This definition of ‘special circumstances is also a not very well defined, blur and wage statement which is not adding Turkey to any UNFCCC party groups or well define the condition of access to which kind of climate finance mechanisms. 

Turkey presented its INDC to the UNFCCC secretariat on 30 September 2015. The INDC specified a 21% reduction in greenhouse gasses relative to a base (reference) scenario. According to the base scenario, the forecast for 2030 would be 1.175 billion tons of carbon dioxide, which would correspond to 929 tons of greenhouse gasses. Turkey’s target for decreasing carbon emissions by 21% is lower than those of countries with similar base scenarios and some has lower GDP and growth rate (for example, Peru at 20%, Thailand at 20%, Mexico at 22%, Indonesia at 29%, Morocco at 32%, South Korea at 39%, etc.) In a joint report by the Istanbul Policy Center and the World Wildlife Fund Turkey, experts evaluated Turkey’s likely emission trajectories till 2030. According to their calculations, at 5% annual GDP growth, Turkey will reach 1 billion tons of emissions in 2030. These figures suggest that the 1.175 billion ton figure projected in the official INDC might stem from faster than expected growth or a higher than expected energy demand. The target of reducing the forecasted carbon emissions to 929 million tons would correspond to a reduction from this increase of roughly 7%. According to the report, constant GDP growth at a rate of 5% through 2030 and even the possibility that this high rate of growth would lead to an even higher energy demand both seem unrealistic for Turkey, because Turkey grew by 2.9% in 2014 and according to the latest growth models before the certain number announced growth will fall below 3% this year as well and it will not exceed 5%The Turkish government has constantly set itself high growth targets hoping to be among the 10 nations with the highest GDP rates by 2023, when the Turkish Republic celebrates its 100th birthday. A goal that many economic analysts have said to be not realistic.

This means that Turkey wants to continue its carbon based development and at the same time access financial instruments meant for countries that are turning away from a fossil fuelled economy. Turkey argues that special conditions apply in its not very well explained special circumstance under UNFCCC case and that this should open up the possibility to benefit from climate funds. Yet, under the new climate regime such a regulation is impossible. The regulations do not offer special treatment to countries whose development models remain dependent on fossil fuels. And Turkey does, in fact, already have indirect access to climate finance via many technology and capacity building funds from EBRD and IMF, IFC climate finance mechanisms and other than many developing nations it attracts many private investors that can offset limited access to public funds

The new climate regime will require the transformation of sectors that are major sources of carbon emissions. It means shifting to renewable sources in primary energy production, quickly increasing energy efficiency, harmonizing high emission industrial zones with the new goals and developing new methods of transportation that will lead to less carbon emissions, like railways and combined transportation. With its high potential both for renewable energy as well as the transformation of its carbon market, Turkey could immediately evaluate this opportunity for transformation. A carbon tax and an emission trading system (ETS) are both possibilities for Turkey in the context of a transforming carbon market. 

During the negotiations in Bonn, some parties such as Germany had declared that they wanted to support Turkey in solving the issue on funding. Behind closed doors a solution was circulated that would have allowed Turkey to access all climate finance bodies with exception of the Green Climate Fund (GCF). GCF funds would be accessible to Turkey only for co-operations with other countries or if the money was only administered through the GCF, but supplied through other international bodies in this way Turkey would retain theoretical access to GCF funds, if the conditions of Appendix system or GCF funding mechanisms change were to change in the future.

In the end no agreement could be reached and the Turkish delegation declared in the plenary that it would not ratify the agreement, before a solution could be found. It has to be expected that this discussion will surface again at next year’s summit in Poland.

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