The Paris Agreement, which aims to alleviate the existential threat of global warming by promoting methods of protection from its dangerous consequences, entered into force on 7 October 2021 in Turkish Law.
What is the Paris Agreement About?
Due to the expiration of the Kyoto Protocol in 2020, the Paris Agreement ("Agreement") which aims to reduce climate change, enable adaptation and finance these aims within the scope of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, was accepted in 2015 and entered into force on 4 November 2016. Today, a total of 192 members are party to the Agreement.
The Aims of the Paris Agreement
The main aims of the Agreement are stated below:
- Keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C.
- Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change, fostering climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions.
- Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.
Enforcement of the Paris Agreement in Turkish Law
The Paris Agreement was approved and entered into force in Turkish Law through "the Code on the Approval of the Ratification of the Paris Agreement" dated 6 October 2021 and numbered 7335, (you can find the code here, available in Turkish only) and the Presidential Decree on the "Ratification of the Paris Agreement with the attached statement" dated 7 October 2021 and numbered 4618, both published in the Official Gazette dated 7 October 2021 and numbered 31621 (you can find the Presidential Decree here, available in Turkish only).
The President ratified the Agreement with a statement of reservation that Turkey "as a developing country, [...] will implement the Agreement, provided that the Agreement and its mechanisms do not prejudice its right to economic and social development".
National Contribution Statement
While it is necessary to reduce emissions and to avoid using fossil fuels in order to protect the climate, parties have the right to decide when and how much greenhouse gas reduction their countries commit to. The parties communicate their decisions through their national contribution statements. According to the Agreement, parties should improve their statements every five years.
The statements that parties commit to can be gathered under four main groups:
- Absolute reduction,
- Top emission year,
- Reduction over the reference scenario,
- Possible maximum emission intensity target.
In 2015, before it was a party to the Agreement, Turkey gave an "intended" national contribution statement on "the reduction over the reference scenario"1.
Important Regulations of the Agreement for Turkey
- According to the Agreement, it will act in a manner that facilitates developing countries, is respectful of national sovereignty, non-interventionist, non-punitive, and protects them from unnecessary burdens.
- The Agreement provides that it will be implemented in the light of different national circumstances, in a manner reflecting the principle of equity, common but differentiated responsibilities, and the relative capabilities of the parties.
- Subsequent national contributions by the parties are envisioned to include progress and to represent the most ambitious levels possible.
- It is provided that developed countries will continue to take the lead in mobilizing climate finance from a wide variety of sources, instruments and channels, taking into account the needs and priorities of developing countries; developed countries will provide financial resources to developing countries.
- The parties will strengthen cooperative action on technological development and technology transfer, including financial support for developing countries.
- The Agreement encourages parties to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.
It is obvious that the Agreement, which has a mechanism that is not based on punishment, will bring about new practices not only in the public sector but also in the private sector.
Adapting to this new regulation brings particular opportunities for Turkey, which is a country that has a high potential for renewable energy such as solar and wind. For example, as part of the European Union's ("EU") aim to decarbonize by 2050, its Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism expects countries that have commercial relations with the EU to help to enable this transformation. The EU is a very important trade partner for Turkey, which sends almost half of its exports in total to EU countries.
It has been evaluated that through effective climate policies, new business areas can be created and, contrary to popular belief, national income can actually be increased by seven percent2.
1. According to the "intended" national contribution statement, Turkey has foreseen to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 21% over the increase in reference scenario in 2030.
2. Seher, Gizem, and Duygun, Özgür Duygu, "Turkey can increase its national income through implementing active climate strategy!" News from Boğaziçi University, 4 Nov. 2019 https://haberler.boun.edu.tr/tr/haber/turkiye-aktif-iklim-politikasi-uygulayarak-milli-gelirini-artirabilir .
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