Turkey Moves to Address Climate Change

ANKARA, Turkey, February 16, 2007 (ENS) - Turkey is taking steps to respond to the threat of climate change. The Turkish Grand National Assembly Tuesday adopted a decision to set up a Research Commission on the causes and effects of global warming in the country.

The new Commission is expected to consist of 14 members of Parliament who will provide input as the country attempts to adapt to climate change.

In addition, earlier this week, Turkey's first national communication was submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC. Turkey acceded to the Convention in May 2004.

The report was prepared by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry with the technical support of the United Nations Development Programme and the financial support of the Global Environment Facility, GEF.

Signed by Turkish Environment and Forestry Minister Osman Pepe, the report offers a brief review of Turkey’s efforts on climate change and includes a revised version of the country's greenhouse gas inventory.

Pepe

Turkish Environment and Forestry Minister Osman Pepe (Photo courtesy Office of the Minister)
"This document is important for the dissemination of the pressing issue of climate change, as well as in educating and raising the awareness of society regarding future adverse impacts of global warming, while providing new opportunities for the development of cleaner technologies through fostering the advance of science," wrote Pepe in his introduction to the national communication.

Certainly, climate change issues will be "relevant to the national and international agenda in the future," Pepe wrote.

Since Turkey was not a party to the UNFCCC when the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997, Turkey is not yet a party to the protocol.

Thus, Turkey does not have a quantified emission limit or reduction target in the first commitment period of the protocol.

The new Research Commission is expected to produce a study that might introduce a new dimension in Turkey’s approach to the first and consecutive commitment periods of the Kyoto Protocol.

Right now, public awareness of the danger of climate change is building across the country.

drought

Drought in Turkey was severe in 2006 (Photo by Aydan Adsaz © AFSAD courtesy UNESCO)
Turkey experienced one of its driest and hottest winter seasons over the past several months. At the end of October, the country faced severe floods, the worst in the past 100 years, which resulted in 40 casualties across the southeastern region.

These extreme events and the February 2 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, accelerated discussions and raised public awareness of global warming at the national level, says Yunus Arikan, Climate Change Project manager with the Regional Environmental Center Turkey.

In its report on the scientific evidence of global warming, endorsed by 113 governments, the IPCC warned that climate change is already occurring, that human activities are "very likely" responsible, and that warming will continue for centuries even if greenhouse gas emissions are stablized now.

The Ministry of Environment and Forestry has designated REC Turkey as the National Focal Point on UNFCCC Article 6, covering education, training and public awareness.

Since then, says Arikan, REC Turkey has been publishing "Cemre," the first and only climate change bulletin in Turkish and has been implementing other climate awareness projects with the support of national and international partners and international donors.

power plant

Turkey's Afsin Elbistan-B power plant at Kahramanmaras is fired by lignite, low grade brown coal. The region around the plant site has about a third of Turkey’s recoverable lignite reserves. (Photo courtesy Skoda Export)
REC Turkey is one of the 17 country offices of the Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe, headquartered in Szentendre, Hungary.

Established in 1990 by the United States, the European Commission and Hungary, the REC is a non-partisan, non-advocacy, not-for-profit international organization aims to assist in solving regional environmental problems. It operates by promoting cooperation among nongovernmental organizations, governments and businesses and by supporting the free exchange of information and public participation in environmental decision making.

Within this framework, REC Turkey has developed two key publications, hosted stakeholder workshops in major cities, and organized technical training courses for key negotiators of government, research and business institutions.

REC Turkey also facilitated participation of the first Turkish NGO in a UNFCCC Conference of Parties in 2005, and enabled direct contacts between Turkish NGOs and international constituencies and government negotiators.

To further raise public awareness, says Arikan, Turkish environmental NGOs are planning to organize a big demonstration in Istanbul on April 28.

In the near future, REC Turkey also is planning to play a more active role in the development and improvement of voluntary carbon markets in the country, an idea that Arikan says is becoming very popular in the Turkish business community.

To read Turkey's first national communication to the UNFCCC in English, click here.