The countries that emit the most greenhouse gases only agreed to “vague, fragile” reduction targets at the recent climate change conference in Durban, according to Özgür Gürbüz, who was present at the conference.
For MENA countries, there are some bright spots in the outcome of the most recent United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP17) in Durban, South Africa. No legally binding greenhouse gas-emissions reduction target was set at the COP17, however. Instead, countries aimed at reducing their emissions by 25 to 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.
Prospects for real reductions: slim
But the world’s biggest polluters — the United States, Canada, Russia, and Japan, who together emit approximately one third of global emissions — will probably not adhere to this target without a legally binding protocol.
That’s the opinion of Özgür Gürbüz, a Turkish energy analyst, journalist, and consultant who has attended several climate change conferences, including COP17, who was recently interviewed in the Turkish daily Today’s Zaman.
Compared to the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, which expires next year, says Gürbüz, the targeted 25-40% reduction from Durban is a wide, vague range, and gives countries too much time to reduce their emissions.
“An international, legally binding treaty… has to be finalized and realized by 2017, but preferably earlier,” he told the Zaman. “The current agreement is very fragile and could break down.”
All the technology needed to substantially reduce GHG emissions in developed countries already exists, according to Gürbüz, but political will and commercial interests are holding countries back from doing so.
“When it comes to oil, we are ready to talk about values and human rights, but when it comes to lives that are not attached to material benefits, there is nobody to speak out,” he pointed out.
Turkey is still included in the list of Annex I (developed) countries in the COP charter, but the “special circumstances” of its in-between stage of development, which exempted it from certain requirements in the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period.
Turkey’s emissions since 1990, however, have grown by 97 percent — one of the highest rates in the world. Per capita carbon-equivalent emissions are close to 5.2 tons, close to China’s and higher than the world average.
With very low hydrocarbon reserves of its own and plentiful renewable resources, Turkey’s energy future should be obvious, Gürbüz says.
Yet Turkey’s leaders seem to be fixated on following the same development path as the nations with the highest emissions of today.
“We are taught that higher electricity consumption per capita is a criterion of development. That is nonsense. Let’s keep the lights on all the time in our houses! I am sure it will double per capita consumption but the country will be worse off because of wasted energy.”
Instead, Turkey should focus on improving the energy efficiency of its vehicles, devices, and industrial facilities, adds Gürbüz. That’s the only path to true energy independence and energy security for this rapidly growing country.
Read more about what happened at Durban:
Durban Gives 6 Reasons For The Middle East To Celebrate
How Will Saudi-Driven Carbon Capture Work Under the Durban Climate Agreement?
Saudi Acts As Oil Cheerleader At COP 17 Circus
Image via Today’s Zaman