Lack of int’l climate code lets Turkey off hook on emissions

The major effect of climate change in Turkey is water stress and drought, says Ümit Şahin adding that all three phases of drought; meteorological, agricultural and hydrological, are seen in Turkey. HÜRRİYET photo, Selçuk ŞAMİLOĞLU

The absence of an international regime on climate change has enabled Turkey to enjoy a free ride on a development policy that is careless about emissions, according to an activist. ‘The collapse of the EU process is also the reason why Turkey gives less emphasis to climate change,’ says Ümit Şahin. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has no political will to fight climate change, according to environmental activist Ümit Şahin.

“The government thinks that all kind of mitigation measures are exactly the opposite of their development policies,” said Şahin of Sabancı University’s Istanbul Policy Center, adding that the lack of an international oversight on climate change gave the government carte blanche to pursue a ruthless development policy.

We have been witnessing heat waves and seen cyclones in Turkey. What is the awareness level of Turks about climate change?

According to some polls, two-thirds of the population seem to be aware of climate chance. It is quite high if you compare it to the United States or some other countries. Most people believe climate change is a real threat. But they don’t have a clear idea about what climate change is.

Maybe one exception is on the rural side. Most of the people in rural parts are aware of the effects because they observe nature more directly.

How come the denial lobby which is so active in the U.S. is not so present in Turkey?

In Turkey there are some deniers but they are very few and powerless so we can ignore them. Currently there is no need for such a lobby yet. The government does not have any targets to reduce emissions; they signed the Kyoto protocol very late but did not...

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