Turkey to ratify Paris climate agreement, Erdogan tells UN

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 21: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an speaks during the annual gathering in New York City for the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on September 21, 2021 in New York City. More than 100 heads of state or government are attending the session in person, although the size of delegations are smaller due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Mary Altaffer – Pool/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by POOL / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

UNITED NATIONS, United States (AFP) – President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Tuesday that Turkey was ready to finally ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Erdogan’s announcement at a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly followed a year of violent weather events in Turkey — including wildfires and flash floods — that have claimed some 100 lives.

Turkey in April 2016 signed the landmark agreement on limiting the dangerous emissions that contribute to global warming, which scientists blame for increasingly extreme and more frequent weather events.

But it has yet to formally ratify the accord by a vote in parliament.

Erdogan told the UN General Assembly that Turkey now intends to complete the ratification process in time for the November UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.

“I would like to announce to the whole world here from the United Nations General Assembly the decision we have taken following the progress made within the framework of the agreement. We plan to submit the Paris Climate Agreement for approval to our parliament next month,” Erdogan said.

“Before the United Nations climate change conference, which will be held in Glasgow, we envisage the ratification phase of the carbon-neutral targeted agreement.”

‘Respect balance of nature’

Firemen and local volunteers carry hosepipes as they fight to extinguish a wildfire in Oren, in the holiday region of Mugla, on August 6, 2021 as Turkey struggles against its deadliest wildfires in decades. – Greece and Turkey have been fighting blaze upon blaze over the past week, hit by the worst heatwave in decades, a disaster that officials and experts have linked to increasingly frequent and intense weather events caused by climate change. (Photo by SERDAR GURBUZ / AFP)

Erdogan has come under intense political pressure at home for his handling of deadly wildfires and flash floods that hit Turkey’s southern Mediterranean resort regions and northern Black Sea coast in August.

The two disasters and an accompanying drought in Turkey’s southeast have pushed up the importance of environmental issues in the minds of voters — especially for younger generations.

Erdogan will need the support of millions of teens who will be voting for the first time when he tries to extend his rule into a third decade in a general election scheduled for no later than June 2023.

The powerful president devoted the entire closing section of his wide-ranging UN address — televised live on most Turkish news channels — to climate issues.

“While the Earth embraces millions of living species on its soil, it only expects us to respect the balance of nature in return for this generosity,” he said.

But he added that the world’s biggest polluter “should also make the greatest contribution to the fight against climate change”.

“Unlike the past, this time no one has the right to say: I am powerful, I do not pay the bill,” Erdogan said. “Because climate change treats mankind quite fairly.”