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Istanbul Economy Summit: Officials demand action to end climate crisis
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Istanbul Economy Summit: Officials demand action to end climate crisis

Climate crisis' threat level is terrifying


Representatives from Turkey and other countries, including the private sector, have stressed the need for greater cooperation and action to address climate risk management. They also called for a significant increase in renewable energy investment.

On Friday, Istanbul Economy Summit fifth edition was held in Istanbul. Many officials, executives, and representatives of the private sector from Turkey and other countries were present.

Held under the main sponsorship of the major Turkish renewable energy company Kalyon PV, the daylong summit took place under the theme of “Green Economy.”

Attendees addressed clean energy, its importance and economic impact, climate change, the world’s process of change and transformation in renewable energy, digital agriculture, ecotourism, autonomous systems as well as new balances in the supply chains disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Far from the targets

Addressing the event, Abdullah Değer, chairperson of the executive committee of the Istanbul Economy Summit, noted the enormous damage that has been done to nature over the last 100 years, stressing it was still not too late to leave a better world for the future generations.

“In the century ahead, we can leave a much better world for future generations. The Istanbul Economy Summit has no claim to save the world, but it has a claim to bring together people who claim to save the world,” Değer said.

For his part, Istanbul Economy Summit Chairperson of the Board Kürşad Tüzmen warned the world was still far away from the targets set in the Paris climate agreement.

The 2015 Paris agreement aims to limit global temperatures rising to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degree Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels. It also focuses on limiting the rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

However, Tüzmen said the COP26 U.N. Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland last month demonstrated that “we are 80% away” from achieving this goal.

Tourism and exports are the driving forces

He stressed that developing countries can’t achieve a green economy awareness easily, but he also pointed out that developed countries had failed to meet their commitments.

“We can overcome this issue if the countries focus with dedication,” Tüzmen said. He stressed that Turkey has two major driving forces, exports and tourism, noting that these should be the country’s main focus.

“We can provide resources to the green economy by using our export and tourism resources,” he said.

Also addressing the event, Ismail Gülle, head of the Turkish Exporters’ Assembly (TIM), said working toward a green economy is crucial so that we leave a better world for future generations.

Gülle emphasized the need to develop environmentally friendly policies that aim to utilize resources effectively and avoid waste. Gulle also stated that advanced economies are pursuing profit-driven goals that are harmful to the environment.

He also stated that India, the U.S. and China are the three largest contributors to global carbon emissions. Turkey’s share stands at roughly 1%, Gülle said.

He also spoke out to highlight the importance of the Paris accord, which Turkey recently signed.

After years of demanding that Turkey be reclassified to a developing country, Turkey ratified the Paris climate agreement in October. This would allow it to receive funds and technological assistance.

Ankara signed Paris agreement in April 2016. However, it did not initiate the ratification process.

Firuz Bağlıkaya, the head of the Turkish Travel Agencies Association (TÜRSAB), said the pandemic has caused massive changes in the means of production and consumption.

A shortage of resources and climate change has made the focus on green economy doubly important, Bağlıkaya noted.

Worst crisis of the century

Annemarie Straathof (EBRD vice president) stated that the green transition has two priorities: equal opportunity and digitalization.

Straathof stated that carbon emission targets pose challenges due to regulatory changes, demand changes, and new technologies.

“There is an increasing awareness of climate change as a source of grace, but also opportunities for businesses and finance,” she added.

“We want to draw attention to energy efficiency. We want to reduce cumulative greenhouse gas emissions. Our work is parallel to the Paris Agreement and other areas related to climate. The climate crisis is the biggest disaster of our century and its urgency is certain.”

Ibrokhim Abdurakhmonov, Uzbekistan’s innovative development minister, said countries should take lessons from global natural disasters.

“There are many opportunities that we, as governments, can do together. We also learned valuable lessons from the pandemic. We should conduct direct research to reduce carbon dioxide and then be able to make applications in this field,” Abdurakhmonov noted.

Aleksa Becic, chair of Montenegro’s parliament, said steps toward a green economy should be discussed across all platforms and relevant policies should be developed.

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