United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol

1. UNFCCC and Turkey’s Position

The most important step to address the impact of global warming caused by human activities on climate change was the conclusion of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which was opened for signature at the United Nations Environment and Development Conference, convened in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro. The Convention entered into force on March 21, 1994. More than 190 countries including Turkey and the European Communities (EC) are party to the Convention.

Parties to the Convention are obliged to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions, to cooperate on research and technology and to encourage protection of sinks. The Convention lays “common but differentiated responsibilities” to countries, taking into account their respective development priorities, goals and special circumstances, in order to reduce greenhouse gases emissions.

“Common but differentiated responsibilities” principle rests on the fact that some countries need to take more responsibility in reducing GHG emissions, since they have been emitting more GHG than others after the industrial revolution. In this respect the Convention sets the Parties to three categories.

1. Annex-I countries: The Convention obliges them to reduce GHG emissions, to protect and to develop sinks and to report the measures they take to prevent climate change and data about GHG emissions. This category has two types of countries in it. The first group includes OECD countries at the year of 1992; and the second those, whose economies are in transition. This category comprises 42 countries and EC.

2. Annex-II countries: This category includes OECD countries at the year of 1992 and the EC. These countries are obliged to transfer environment friendly technologies to specially developing countries and to take all necessary steps to encourage, facilitate and finance access to these technologies on top of other responsibilities they have as being Annex I countries. This category comprises 23 countries and EC.

3. Non-annex countries: These countries are encouraged to reduce GHG emissions, to cooperate on research and technology and to protect sinks, but are not bound by other obligations like the Annex I and II countries. This category currently includes 153 countries.

As Turkey was seen as a developed OECD country, when the Convention was signed, its name was listed both in Annex I and Annex II.

Turkey has rejected this position during the negotiations of the Convention and has not become party to the Convention. The 7th Conference of Parties in 2001 has adopted a decision to “... delete Turkey’s name from the Annex II and to place Turkey among the Annex I countries, taking into account its special circumstances, differentiating it from other Annex I countries...”. This decision entered into force on June 28, 2002 and since that date Turkey is only an Annex I country. After this decision was taken, Turkey was able to adhere to the Convention ten years after its entry in to force on May 24, 2004.

2. Kyoto Protocol and Turkey’s Position

The adoption of the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1994 was a major step forward in tackling the problem of global warming. Yet as greenhouse gas (GHG) emission levels continued to rise around the world, it became increasingly evident that only a firm and binding commitment by developed countries to reduce emissions could send a signal strong enough to convince businesses, communities and individuals to act on climate change. Member countries of the UNFCCC therefore began negotiations on a Protocol – an international agreement linked to the existing Treaty, but standing on its own. After two and a half years of intense negotiations, the Kyoto Protocol was adopted at the third Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP 3) in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997. The Protocol was open for signature from March 1997 to March 1998 in New York. After this date, countries could only accede to the Protocol.

The Protocol requires developed countries to reduce their GHG emissions below levels specified for each of them in the Treaty. These targets must be met within a five-year time frame between 2008 and 2012, and add up to a total cut in GHG emissions of at least 5% against the baseline of 1990.

The Protocol has entered into force after the Russian Federation’s accession in 2005. Currently 192 countries and the EC is Party to the Protocol. Annex I countries of the Convention, who have committed themselves to reduce GHG emissions or took quantified emission limitation commitments, are Annex B countries under the Protocol. GHG reduction commitments for the Parties, included in Annex I of the Convention, during the first commitments period ranging from 2008 to 2012 are determined in the Annex B of the Kyoto Protocol. Other countries, (developing countries like India, PRC, Brazil and South Africa) Party to the Protocol are named non-Annex Parties and do not have fixed commitments to reduce GHG emissions.

EC member states have rearranged their GHG emission reduction commitments to reach the 8% reduction commitment of the EC with an agreement among themselves. With this rearrangement, UK for example, has taken a commitment to reduce its GHG emission level 12.5% in comparison to 1990 emission levels, Greece on the other hand has agreed to increase its emissions up to 25%. At the end the total commitment of countries, who are both EU members and listed in Annex I, remains unchanged.

Although having signed the Protocol, USA, responsible for 25% of global GHC emissions and Party to UNFCCC, left the Kyoto process, stating that the Protocol would harm its national economy while not foreseeing any commitments to developing countries, like PRC and India.

Turkey was not Party to the Convention, during the negotiations of the Kyoto Protocol, and therefore, is not listed in the Annex-B of the Kyoto Protocol, although being listed in the Annex-I of the Convention. Another Annex-I country, Belarus, was not listed in the Annex-B of the Protocol, because it was in a similar position like Turkey. Belarus has acceded to the Kyoto Protocol in 2005 and later applied to be listed in Annex-B.

Turkey became a party to the Kyoto Protocol on 26 August 2009. Since it did not take part in the Annex-B of the Protocol, it did not undertake any emission reduction commitments. Turkey’s responsibility under the Protocol until 2012 is only limited to the Article 10 of KP.

The first commitments period of the Kyoto Protocol will end in 2012. Official negotiations of the post Kyoto regime under the UNFCC have begun at the 13th Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC in December 2007 in Bali.

CLIMATE CHANGE NEGOTIATIONS IN 2005-2009: Convening in Montreal, Canada, at the end of 2005, the first session of the CMP decided to establish the AWG-KP under Protocol Article 3.9, which mandates consideration of Annex I Parties’ further commitments at least seven years before the end of the first commitment period. COP 11 also created a process to consider long-term cooperation under the Convention through a series of four workshops known as “the Convention Dialogue.”

In December 2007, COP 13 and CMP 3 in Bali, Indonesia, resulted in agreement on the Bali Roadmap on long-term issues. COP 13 adopted the Bali Action Plan and established the AWG-LCA with a mandate to focus on mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology and a shared vision for long-term cooperative action. Negotiations on Annex I Parties’ further commitments continued under the AWG-KP. The deadline for concluding the two-track negotiations was in Copenhagen in December 2009. In preparation, both AWGs held several negotiating sessions in 2008-2009.

COPENHAGEN: The UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, took place in December 2009. The high-profile event was marked by disputes over transparency and process. During the high-level segment, informal negotiations took place in a group consisting of major economies and representatives of regional and other negotiating groups. Late in the evening of 18 December, these talks resulted in a political agreement: the “Copenhagen Accord,” which was then presented to the COP plenary for adoption. After 13 hours of debate, delegates ultimately agreed to “take note” of the Copenhagen Accord. In 2010, over 140 countries indicated support for the Accord. More than 80 countries also provided information on their national mitigation targets or actions. Parties also agreed to extend the mandates of the AWG-LCA and AWG-KP until COP 16 and CMP 6, respectively. Turkey did not endorse the Copenhagen Accord.

CANCUN: The UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico, took place in December 2010, where Parties finalized the Cancun Agreements. Under the Convention track, Decision 1/CP.16 recognized the need for deep cuts in global emissions in order to limit global average temperature rise to 2°C. Parties agreed to keep the global long-term goal under regular review and consider strengthening it during a review by 2015, including in relation to a proposed 1.5°C target. They took note of emission reduction targets and nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs) communicated by developed and developing countries, respectively (FCCC/SB/2011/INF.1/Rev.1 and FCCC/ AWGLCA/2011/INF.1, both issued after Cancun). Decision 1/CP.16 also addressed other aspects of mitigation, such as: measuring, reporting and verification (MRV); and REDD+.

The Cancun Agreements also established several new institutions and processes, including the Cancun Adaptation Framework and the Adaptation Committee, and the Technology Mechanism, which includes the Technology Executive Committee and the Climate Technology Centre and Network. The Green Climate Fund (GCF) was created and designated as a new operating entity of the Convention’s financial mechanism, governed by a 24-member board. Parties agreed to set up a Transitional Committee tasked with the Fund’s design, and a Standing Committee to assist the COP with respect to the financial mechanism. Parties also recognized the commitment by developed countries to provide US$30 billion of fast-start finance in 2010-2012, and to jointly mobilize US$100 billion per year by 2020.

Under the Protocol track, the CMP urged Annex I Parties to raise the level of ambition towards achieving aggregate emission reductions consistent with the range identified in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and adopted Decision 2/CMP.6 on land use, land-use change and forestry.

The mandates of the two AWGs were extended to the UN Climate Change Conference to Durban.

DURBAN: The UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, took place from 28 November to 11 December 2011. The Durban outcomes cover a wide range of topics, notably the establishment of a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, a decision on long-term cooperative action under the Convention, and agreement on the operationalization of the GCF. Parties also agreed to launch the new ADP with a mandate “to develop a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties.” The new negotiating process, which began in May 2012, is scheduled to end by 2015. The outcome should come into effect and be implemented from 2020 onwards.

The mandates of the AWG-LCA and AWG-KP were again extended to Doha. (COP 18)

3. GHG Emissions and Efforts to Combat Climate Change in Turkey

It is scientifically proven that the countries situated at the Mediterranean basin will be most seriously affected by climate change. Turkey has begun to see the effects of global warming like weakening water resources and desertification and ecologic degradation related therein. In addition to the reduction in rain fall, an increase in desertification is being observed in Turkey. In this respect the Konya basin is under serious threat, due to drastic reduction in rain fall, caused by global warming. Experts report that the region will become a desert in 30 years if necessary measures are not taken.

Turkey needs to achieve economic development in the framework of sustainable development principle, taking social development and environmental protection aspects into account as recognized by the recent Rio+20 Summit. Turkey supports efforts to tackle climate change and attaches importance to practices in the context of “sustainable development” and “common but differentiated responsibilities” and “respective capabilities”.

Turkey achieved 171 per cent increase in GDP between 1990 and 2008. The growth rate of Turkey was 9 percent in 2010 and 8.5 in 2011.

The population of Turkey is currently around 75 million. It has increased 27 per cent since 1990. Turkey’s per capita GHG emissions is 5.09 tons (2009), one third of the OECD and half of the EU average.

The share of Turkey in global cumulative greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions since the year 1850 is 0,4 per cent. Turkey’s GHG emission has almost doubled between 1990 and 2009, increased from 187 million tons to 370 million tons. However, Turkey has reduced its GHG emissions 20 per cent from the business as usual scenario starting from the year 1990 by only domestic measures and resources.

Turkey will continue to make its best efforts in combating climate change. It intends to increase its efforts through not only by domestic measures but also bilateral and multilateral cooperation and support. Turkey needs technology and more financial resources to mitigate and adapt. In this regard, Turkey expects equitable access to current and future technology and finance mechanisms under the Convention.

The new Environment Law has defined strict emission limitations in the energy and industry sectors and brought new dimensions to solid waste and air quality management. Turkey has adopted new legislations on renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy conservation, while trying to increase the energy supply to meet the increasing demand.

Turkey currently produces 20% of its total electricity supply from renewable energy sources and plans to increase this rate up to 30% by 2023.

Turkey has submitted its First National Communication on February 2007 to the UNFCCC Secretariat. This document was prepared in close cooperation with relevant Ministries, institutions, NGOs and private sector with the support of United Nations Development Program and Global Environment Facility. Preparations for the Second National Communication have started and it is planned to be completed and submitted within 2012.

A new Parliamentary Comission on climate change and sustainable water management comprised of 16 members was established on 23 October 2007.

In addition, the National Climate Change Strategy (2010-2020) which was adopted by the decision of the Supreme Planning Council in May 3, 2010, will cover a period of 10 years. Based on the above mentioned Strategy Document, National Climate Change Action Plan was completed in 2011.