15 January 2010
COPENHAGEN: A TURNING POINT IN CLIMATE POLICY? FUTURE OF GLOBAL COOPERATION AND TURKEY
The Panel titled Copenhagen: A Turning Point in Climate Policy? Future of Global Cooperation and Turkey was held on 15 January 2010. The Panel, held shortly after the Copenhagen Climate Conference in December 2009, aimed to discuss the outcomes of the Conference in terms of global climate action and Turkey’s climate policy. With a special focus on the outcomes of the COP15/CMP5, the Panel addressed a range of issues pertaining to future of the regime and Turkey’s role in global cooperation. Discussions were also centered on possible implications of the Copenhagen Accord on ongoing negotiations under the two tracks and Turkey’s response to the Accord. The Panel speakers, most of them attended the COP15/CMP5 in Copenhagen in different capacities, presented their first hand observations and views on the Conference outcomes from different perspectives. The Panel, bringing together distinguished representatives of political, civil society, private sector and academic community, provided participants with a comprehensive account of the Conference. Moderated by Dr. İbrahim Mazlum of MURCIR, the Panel members were as follows:
- Haluk Özdalga
MP and Chairman of Parliamentary Environment Committee
- Dr. Etem Karakaya
Adnan Menderes University and member of MURCIR Working Group on Climate Change
- Ömer Madra
- Dr. Sibel Sezer Eralp
- Hande Baloğlu
Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen Association (TÜSİAD)
- Dr. Semra Cerit
In opening the Panel, Dr. İbrahim Mazlum briefly introduced MURCIR’s climate change related activities and summarized COP15/CMP5 with special reference to MURCIR presence.
In his speech, Haluk Özdalga, who was member of the government delegation to COP15/CMP5, gave a broad account of the negotiations in Copenhagen including Turkey’s position. He first descried the extent of necessary global action to combat climate change as required by the climate science. He then presented the positions of major group of Parties in the negotiations before and during the Conference comparing the views of developed and developing country Parties. In explaining Turkey’s difficulties in climate talks, he depicted Turkey’s position with a formula of 40+1+150 where Turkey stands alone in between 40 developed and 150 developing country Parties. He pointed out the sharp contrast between Turkey’s overall foreign policy achievements in recent years and its low performance in climate talks. He also noted the urgent need to improve institutional capacity of the country to implement measures laid down by climate change regime. In this context, the MP emphasized the need to draw up policy documents outlining the NAMAs to be undertaken by the country.
Dr. Semra Cerit presented an analysis of the key elements of the Copenhagen Accord in comparison with the expectations based on the draft negotiating text before the two negotiating groups. She described the conference outcome as a “constructed failure” by referring to the discussions and statements in the process leading up to Copenhagen. She then addressed the discussions on possible new venues for climate talks put forward in the aftermath of the Conference stemming from the observations of shifting powers and emerging new coalitions within the regime, referring particularly to the proposals to continue talks under G-20 or MEF, conceptualized as “partial multilateralism” as an alternative to UN system based on consensus decision-making. Concerning Turkey’s possible action in response to the Copenhagen Accord, she noted the difficulty for the country to position itself in either of the Appendixes due to its Annex I Party status and intention to associate with the document as a developing country. She also pointed out the need for transformation of country’s development policy and development planning tradition informed by a carbon-oriented conceptualization of development in order for the country to get to grips with emerging requirement to devise a low carbon growth/development strategy.
Dr. Etem Karakaya, in assessing the Copenhagen Conference, first reminded the participants his on low anticipation from the Conference by referring to his remarks at MURCIR’s Panel in 2009. He outlined three possible ways out from the impasse in climate talks by making an analogy with the economics. Accordingly, the first best option is to secure global cooperation against a global problem (preventing climate talks from the fate of WTO talks), the second best option is to forge regional agreements or action, and the third way would be unilateral action by individual countries or organizations. He then introduced his proposal for possible actions that can be taken by Turkey to reduce emissions and associate itself with the Accord. He suggested that Turkey would increase the level of ambition in its emissions reduction target. Comparing the pledges of major developing countries, he proposed that Turkey would adopt a no-lose target and pledge a % 20 emissions reduction target against business as usual levels by 2020.
Ömer Madra, Açık Radyo, who closely followed both formal negotiations and civil society activities both at Bella Center and Klima Forum, criticized the Conference for failing to produce a binding agreement. By referring to the remarks of Dr James Hansen of Goddard Institute, Madra commented that the Conference was better not to have an agreement which would have been weaker than what was necessary. He questioned viability of any agreement based on cap-and-trade mechanism. Madra reminded participants of the calls by small island developing states such as Maldives and Tuvalu to reach a binding agreement. Providing an extensive account of the civil society engagement in Copenhagen, he noted the emergence of a new global social movement organized around calls for climate justice. He also mentioned initiatives intended to lead a rights-based global climate action, including People’s Climate Conference to be held in April in Bolivia by the invitation of President of Bolivia.
Dr. Sibel Sezer Eralp, REC Turkey, first introduced REC Turkey and its projects in the field of climate change in particular and environment in general. She informed participants about the the climate change regime, negotiating structures and civil society engagement in the process. She then presented a vivid visual account of the Copenhagen Conference with accompanying notes on the day to day progress of negotiations. Dr. Sezer Eralp also drew attention to activities by civil society, business and local governments.
Hande Baloğlu, in her informative speech on “the role of private sector and business in combating climate change in Turkey”, called for an integrated approach to climate policy by emphasizing the linkage between energy policy, industry investment, regional development, local government among others. She underlined that environment and climate policies are important for industry because of their impacts on national and international markets. She then described low carbon economy with its implications for private sector. She presented Turkey’s climate related indicators in comparison with global and European trends and noted the increase in total and per capita emissions and high emissions-intensity of the economy, a source of concern for international trade. In her assessment of the Copenhagen Accord in the context of Turkey’s response, she pointed out uncertainties concerning the status with which the country would associate itself with the Appendixes by referring the fact that Turkey is an Annex I Party with special circumstances. Baloğlu drew attention to finance as the main impediment before investments for climate change and environment. She also presented TÜSİAD’s, the first business NGO accredited to UNFCCC, views on Turkey’s climate policy which call for completion of inventories, action plans, strategies and improving legal and institutional capacity. In concluding she reminded that Turkey should make good use of the time until COP16 with a view to achieving its goals.
The Panel, attended by academics, students, NGOs and the media provided an opportunity to discuss the Copenhagen Conference and its outcomes from different perspectives and gave a strong impetus to MURCIR’s work in the area. Panel speeches will be available online on our website.