Turkish panel discusses climate change at COP26 global summit

Glasgow panel discussion organized by Turkey’s Directorate of Communications hears effects, remedies of climate crisis.

Turkish panel discusses climate change at COP26 global summit

The climate crisis, one of the biggest challenges the globe is facing, has been discussed at a special panel during the UN climate change summit being held in Glasgow, Scotland.

The panel discussion, titled “Turkiye’s Green Development Strategy: An Inclusive, Sustainable and Humanitarian Vision,” was organized by Turkey’s Directorate of Communications at the COP26 venue. It was moderated by TRT World’s famous anchor Selina Downes.

Moderated by TRT World’s famous anchor Selina Downes, the event hosted Oktay Tanrisever from Middle East Technical University; Kilic Bugra Kanat, Washington research director of SETA (Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research); Nisreen Elsaim, chair of UN secretary-general’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change; and Karim Elgendy, expert from Chatham House Environment and Society Program, as speakers.

They expressed their views on climate change, green development, climate crisis, sustainable development, net zero emission, protection of environment, responsible consumption, COP26, environmentalist policies and Turkey’s green development plans.

Speaking about the effects of climate change in Turkey, Elgendy said the “geographic condition… means it’s effected differently by climate change than everyone else.”

“In other words, it (Turkey) will get less precipitation, less rain. Well, other places will get more rain, so that’s the first starting point, so temperature will increase. We expect that average temperatures will likely increase in Turkey, which are already rising. Maximum temperatures will increase in Turkey and you’ll get less precipitation, less rain.”

Elgendy said those two factors “together mean they get more desertification, perhaps, and also creates conditions for erosion, which is a real issue in Turkey,” adding that Turkey is putting in effort to “add more forests” to prevent erosion.

The Chatham House expert underlined that Turkey has already taken various steps to reach net zero emission.

“Turkey has made quite significant efforts on renewables,” he stated.

Elgendy said: “The solar and wind potential has tripled in the last few years. There’s been a massive surge in overall renewables.

“I think Turkey’s share of renewables is more than 50% this year, which is quite impressive by all standards. So there’s a big push on renewables, and I must add the notes here of regional collaboration to allude to this unlike fossil fuels.”

Elgendy also said that Turkey has an ambitious forestation plan for 2023, adding that the country would fulfil more in renewable resources, net zero and forestation.

5.6M people face death by hunger

Elsaim, for her part, said climate change was affecting the whole world.

She said more than 11 countries in Africa had declared emergency due to floods in 2020.

“Sudan was one of them. We had the worst flood in hundred years.”

She added: “So in a whole decade, we had the worst flood in 2020. And this year, ironically, also in 2021 seven countries announced emergency.

“But because of the opposite, exactly droughts. So seven countries are facing drought this year. More than 5.6 million people are very much threatened with death from hunger and malnutrition.”

Climate change, Elsaim said, is not just an extreme weather event, but it has implications on infrastructure, water and food security, and economy as many countries depend on agriculture for economy.

“And if we cannot grow things, we cannot export it so we cannot have a good income for the country itself. So it’s very mixed. And that’s why climate change is so dangerous because it impacts everything in every sort of life of the community.”

Turkey’s potential in green industries

Tanrisever highlighted that Turkey is aware of hardships climate change brings.

“It is affected by deforestation and also climate change in terms of effect of rise in temperature on biodiversity,” he said.

“Turkey has been dealing with these challenges individually, but like other countries,” he stressed.

Tanrisever said as a candidate country, Turkey needs to adapt its climate strategy to the EU’s strategies.

“But also, I believe Turkey, as a regional power, could present this success story in its close neighborhood, from the Caucasus to Central Asia to some of the Middle Eastern countries and the Balkan countries, and also part of Black Sea Region, because we have also close trade relations with these countries,” he added.

“We have great potential to export our technology in the energy sector,” he asserted.

“Turkey will realize its great potential in a clean industrial development strategy and its neighbors will also benefit from that.”

Tanrisever pointed out that young people in Turkey are aware of climate change challenges and he was “hopeful” of them in solving the problems.

The professor also gave examples of Turkey’s efforts in reaching net zero, including the production of indigenous electric vehicles, adding that if it is successful in developing this technology, it will be able to share it with neighboring regions such as the Balkans, Caucasus and the Middle East.

Kanat of SETA said Turkey has taken many steps in dealing with climate change.

He underscored the need for global cooperation and added that, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic, “everybody is in the same boat here, and the sensitivity about global problems increased rapidly.”

He further said: “I think this is a continuation in the Turkish foreign policy in regards to providing some solution for the global problems in attempt to increase the global cooperation and solidarity among countries.

“So when the war started in the Middle East, or the Iraqi war, or the Syrian conflict, Turkey wanted to resolve these problems by starting international initiatives. Turkey has been part of all of those international initiatives that was started to end those conflicts that develop humanitarian crisis.”

Hüseyin Demir

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