Ratification of the Paris Agreement: an important further step in Turkey's efforts to fight climate change

Turkey

On 6 October 2021, in a long-awaited action, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey adopted the proposal to ratify the Agreement. As a result, the law ratifying the Agreement was published in the Official Gazette on 7 October 2021 and entered into force immediately.

Overview of the Paris Agreement

The Agreement, which recognizes climate change as one of the greatest threats to humanity requiring close international cooperation, is a critical element of this global campaign by implementing important measures and raising awareness of the importance of sustainability. The Agreement is the first binding international treaty with solid requirements and commitments to combat climate change.

The Agreement, which came into force in 2016, aims to limit global warming to a pre-industrial level of below 2 degrees Celsius in order to achieve a climate-neutral world. Countries aim to achieve this goal by trying to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions through economic and social transformation. In addition, countries are expected to prepare and submit climate action plans for implementation.

Main content of the Paris Agreement

The Agreement provides a framework for countries to assist each other on financial, technical and capacity building issues. In addition, countries that comply with the Agreement will establish an enhanced transparency framework (ETF) for monitoring purposes. Under this mechanism, countries will report on all actions they have taken to mitigate and adapt to climate change from 2024 onwards. In this way, collective progress towards the long-term goals of the Agreement can be assessed.

Information on actions and measures taken under the Agreement will be collected through the enhanced transparency framework established by the states which are parties to the Agreement, which will be used as part of the global stocktaking exercise to assess joint progress.

The main obligations of the states which are parties to the Agreement are set out in Articles 4, 7, 9, 10, 11 and 13 of the Agreement, which refer to the following nationally determined contributions:

  • The parties will endeavour to reach the global greenhouse gas emission peak as soon as possible and to undertake rapid reductions thereafter;
  • The parties' global objective is to strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability to climate change in order to achieve sustainable development;
  • as the parties that are considered "developing countries" shall be assisted by Parties that are considered "developed countries" in providing financial resources for mitigation and adaptation;
  • The parties recognise the importance of taking full advantage of the development and transfer of technologies to improve resilience to climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Capacity building should facilitate access to climate finance, relevant aspects of education, training and public awareness, and transparent, timely and accurate information sharing; and
  • The parties will cooperate in taking measures to implement the Agreement.

Apart from the Agreement, the European Green Deal, announced in 2019, sets even broader targets. The main objective of the European Green Deal is to make Europe the first carbon neutral continent by 2050. More broadly, the European Green Deal aims for a cleaner environment, new job opportunities, greener and healthier agriculture, sustainable industry, etc.

Status of Turkey

On September 30, 2015, Turkey submitted the "Intended Nationally Determined Contribution" to the Secretary of the Agreement, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 18% to 21% by 2030. This target covers the entire Turkish economy, including the energy, industrial processes and product use, agriculture, land use change and forestry, and waste sectors.

The measures developed to achieve this goal have been classified by sector (i.e. energy, industry, transport, buildings and urban transformation, agriculture, waste and forestry). For example, Turkey commits to increase electricity generation capacity from solar and wind energy to 10 GW by 2030, implement high-speed railway projects, and reuse, recycle and recover secondary raw materials through other processes, use them as an energy source or dispose of them as waste.

As of 2021, Turkey has already made solid progress on the above measures and targets prior to ratification of the Agreement. In this context, Turkey has initiated several solar and wind energy projects and tenders (see our law-now articles on tenders here), launched high-speed railway projects, and amended waste management and product safety legislation by harmonising relevant laws and regulations with EU law. With the ratification of the Agreement, the momentum of climate action in Turkey clearly continues to grow.

COP 26

The UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP 26) in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November 2021. As UN climate change conferences are among the largest international meetings, Turkey's ratification of the Paris Agreement is an important development for COP 26.

The states meeting at COP 26 aim to achieve four (4) goals:

  • Securing a global net zero target for the middle of the century;
  • Establish community and national habitat protection plans;
  • Mobilisation of financial resources to achieve these objectives;
  • Cooperate and finalise the rules for the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

To keep the main objective of the Agreement alive, global warming must ideally be limited to 1.5 degrees and emissions must be halved over the next ten (10) years so that net zero emissions can be achieved by mid-century. The agreement requires Parties to specify emission reduction targets. With their nationally determined contributions and the first of the five-year cycles completed in 2020, countries are expected to update their 2030 targets ahead of the Glasgow meeting.

In order to support people vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and to repair the damage already done, countries are expected to submit an 'adaptation communication' summarising their plans to adapt to the impacts of climate change, the difficulties they face in doing so and the areas where they need help.

Public and private finance is needed to achieve the targets set out in the agreement, i.e. the transition to net zero emissions. Infrastructure development, technology and innovation, and climate investments all depend on their financing. To support developing countries, developed countries have pledged to raise at least USD 100 billion each year for climate finance.

The finalization of the "Paris Rulebook", the rules necessary for the implementation of the Agreement, is another focus of COP26.

What can we expect?

As discussions on the environment accelerate, green finance and its instruments will become much more important in Turkey in the future. Moreover, rating agencies are expected to introduce additional rating criteria related to climate change and sustainability which will create an impact on investments and macroeconomic aspects by taking eco-friendly criteria into consideration The Capital Market Board of Turkey (CMB) has already published a sustainability compliance framework, which sets out environmental, social, general and governance sustainability principles for specific companies. You may find our detailed article on the sustainability compliance framework of CMB here. Turkey's ratification of the Paris Agreement should also encourage other Turkish companies to adopt similar measures.

In addition, Turkey published the Green Deal Action Plan in July 2021 to harmonize the EU's actual and planned policy changes with its industrial, agricultural, energy and transport sectors by adopting compliant roadmaps for foreign trade. As a result, Turkey has recently adopted comprehensive and harmonized legislation that is in line with EU product safety standards. These efforts, as well as the ratification of the Paris Agreement, show that Turkey is not deterring from and addressing the greatest challenge of our time, namely mitigating the effects of climate change. For more information on Turkey's ratification of the Paris Agreement, please contact your regular CMS advisor or your local CMS expert: Dr. Döne Yalçın.