From Paris to Antalya for a New Climate Change Regime International PanelMay 11, 2016
United Nations Resident Coordinator, Turkey
Resident Representative, UNDP Turkey
Honourable Minister of the Environment and Urbanisation of the Republic of Turkey
Undersecretary of the Environment and Urbanisation of the Republic of Turkey
Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, Martin Erdmann
Head of Delegation of the European Union to Turkey, Hansjörg Haber
Representatives of the French Embassy,
Country Director of the German Agency for International Cooperation,
Distinguished representatives of Public Institutions, Civil Society, the Private Sector, Academia, International Organisations and the UN Family,
• It is my pleasure to address you on behalf of the UN in Turkey at this International Panel for the New Climate Change Regime. First, I would like to present my sincere congratulations to the Ministry of Environment and Urbanisation of the Republic of Turkey; Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety of the Federal Republic of Germany; and German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) for organising this event, on a topic to which we attach crucial importance.
• At the outset, I want you to take a moment and think about the word “earth” and the image that the word evokes in your minds. I presume you paint a mental picture where the oceans resemble blue marbles, the forests stretch as far as the eye can see and the fields are full of crops. This is the earth we all want to live in. And, more importantly, this is the earth that we want our children and grandchildren to live in. Now take another moment and paint a mental picture of the earth in 2020, in 2030 and so on. I have one very simple question for you: is this picture any better than the current one? I am afraid not; the pessimism in the room is not so hard to sense. The images that appear in your minds probably include rising sea levels, warmer and more acidic oceans and a warmer atmosphere. I am sure you are all familiar with the picture of a polar bear drifting away on a glacier. It is not only the polar bear that drifts away, it is our own future and the one of future generations.
• The greatest challenge that humankind has faced so far is “human-induced” climate change. The unprecedented climate change that we experience today is induced by us, and hence can be prevented by no one other than us. Besides, as usually indicated, global challenges, like climate change, require global solutions; and I could not agree more with that statement. But, let me add to that. Appropriate and effective global solutions can only be achieved with more convergence and collaboration at all levels, from local to national, regional and international.
• As scientists indicate, we have already reached or exceeded the carrying capacity of several of the earth’s ecosystems. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded in its latest assessment that the warming of the climate system is unequivocal. All continents have already faced serious impacts of climate change and continued greenhouse gas emissions will increase the likelihood of irreversible impacts on human and natural systems. The world will experience extreme precipitation events, heat waves, as well as warmer and acidified oceans with rising sea levels. Disadvantaged and vulnerable communities will be under greater risks imposed by climate change.
• In this context, we all have to recognize the fundamental links between environment and development and take effective measures integrating mitigation and adaptation measures with socio-economic concerns. All governments must embed natural resource constraints into their decision-making processes; and also take ethical dimensions and equity into consideration. They should ensure that all key actors – from local communities to national governments, the private sector, civil society and academia actively participate in contributing to solutions.
• Today, we stand at a very critical juncture not only for the international climate change regime, but also in Turkey’s own national position in this regard. The quote “time is irreversible” takes on a new meaning in the climate change context. The critical objective of keeping the global temperature rise well below 2.0 degrees Celsius, even striving for 1.5 degrees, can only be achieved, if we immediately act now. The cost of inaction is simply unbearable. We should keep in mind that the cost can not be measured in monetary terms; it is and should be measured in lost lives, lost livelihoods and lost generations, to which attaching a price is impossible. I am, therefore, very pleased to see the presence of such a distinguished crowd here today, all very aware of the problem, and all very eager to come up with solutions. So, I believe it all starts right here, in this very room.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
• The experience of the climate change negotiations made it possible to draw some very crucial lessons learned. First and foremost, the new international climate change regime should center around the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities”. The new regime should be inclusive and allow countries to make their contributions to global mitigation and adaptation efforts.
• I am pleased to acknowledge that commitments towards this end were provided at the 21st Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which hosted its largest number of participants from governments, civil, society and media in UNFCCC history and the largest number of heads of state under one roof on a single day in world history.
• The commitments were supported via the submission of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) by countries covering 98.8% (almost 99%) of global emissions and further consolidated with the adoption of the Paris Agreement, which was developed with a high degree of transparency and the full engagement of all parties.
• I am also delighted to acknowledge the historic occasion of the High-Level Signature Ceremony for the Paris Agreement on April 22nd, 2016, Earth Day, where leaders from 175 parties, including Turkey, represented by Her Excellency, the Minister present here today, put their signature to the Agreement. The Agreement will remain open for signature for one year and I am sure that the number of parties who will sign and even deposit their instruments of ratification will significantly increase and this landmark deal will soon enter into force.
• By signing a covenant with the future, world governments have made history. I believe the Agreement will open a new low carbon and climate-resilient era, characterized by responsible production and consumption. It will pave the way for developed countries to lower their emissions and take the lead in providing financial, technological and capacity-building support to developing countries. Developing countries, in turn, should be able to move to a lower carbon trajectory and reduce their vulnerability to climate change. The new regime will encourage countries to raise their ambition and account for their emissions ensuring environmental integrity, transparency, comparability and consistency. I sincerely hope that this strong political momentum will continue, trigger further international cooperation and contribute to the protection of the planet for future generations.
• Today’s Panel discussion comes at a very critical period.2015 was marked by major global events such as the UN Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit, and the United Nations Climate Change Conference. Those events produced significant outcomes such as the post-2015 development agenda (with its associated 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets) and the Paris Agreement. Climate Action is not only a goal per se, but also a means to achieve the 2030 Agenda on the SDGs. It can contribute to the eradication of poverty, ending hunger, creating green jobs, reducing inequalities, promoting peaceful and inclusive societies and empowering girls and women. Therefore, at the UN, we have no doubt that coherence across development agenda items will be essential for inclusive, low emission, and climate-resilient development. Building on that coherence, it is within our collective capacity to secure our common future for a more sustainable and equitable world. In order to enable this, strong leadership and engaged citizenry will be the key. To this end, the active involvement and leadership of Turkey will be very important.
• Turkey, the beautiful country that we all live in is not immune to climate change; on the contrary it is highly vulnerable. With most industries located in coastal zones and with a sizeable population depending on agriculture for their livelihood, it is critical to enhance Turkey’s climate resilience. I am very pleased that Turkey has taken concrete steps not only on the adaptation front, but also on the mitigation front. I express my sincere appreciation to Turkey for having signed the Paris Agreement on April 22, 2016. Turkey is now part of the solution and I am sure that it will play a much bigger role in the solution in the future with the recent positive developments in the international climate change regime.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
• I am well aware that the audience that I stand before today is no ordinary audience. Today, I have the honour to address the representatives of a country which successfully led very critical events like the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in 2011 in Istanbul, the 2015 G20 Summit in Antalya and the 12th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in 2015 in Ankara. Besides that, we are all very fortunate to be present here in this critical month in which Turkey will host further significant events like the first ever World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul and the Midterm Review Conference of the Istanbul Programme of Action in Antalya. I am also very pleased to see that special importance is attached by the Government of Turkey to the environment and climate change issues and the needs of the LDCs which are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. This commitment is reflected in Turkey’s willingness to host the 26th Conference of Parties of the UNFCCC in 2020, as clearly expressed by Honourable Minister Ms. Fatma Güldemet Sarı, during her speech at the High Level Segment of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. I am sure that Turkey will mobilize all its capabilities to ensure the effective realisation of the 26th Conference of Parties. In this regard, please let me reiterate that the UN in Turkey will be pleased to build on our long-lasting and effective cooperation with the Government of Turkey in the field of environment and climate change to collectively work to make this Conference a success.
• Let me conclude on this note. I thank you for your attention and hope that you will have fruitful panel discussions today.
 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report, 2016, https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/syr/ (accessed on 09.05.2016)
 World Resources Institute (WRI), CAIT Climate Data Explorer, 2016,http://cait.wri.org/indc/ (accessed on 10.05.2016)
 United Nations, 2016,http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2016/04/parisagreementsingatures/ (accessed on 10.05.2016)
 Speech by H.E. Fatma Güldemet Sarı, the Minister of Environment and Urbanisation of the Republic of Turkey, UNFCCC 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties, High Level Segment, 7 December 2015,https://unfccc.int/files/meetings/paris_nov_2015/application/pdf/cop21cmp11_hls_speech_turkey.pdf(accessed on 10.05.2016)