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    What is Turkey’s goal in COP15?

    Güven Sak, PhD12 December 2009 - Okunma Sayısı: 1143


    Do you know what COP15 means? Fifteenth United Nations Climate Change conference is currently carried out in Copenhagen (COP15). The meeting focuses on two points: First is limiting the annual carbon emission rates caused by our current daily lives in order to make the beautiful blue planet of us habitable for a longer period. And second is, given that current life styles of human beings result in increasingly higher carbon emissions every year, deciding who will undertake the burden of our changing life styles and how. Will the meeting produce such decision? We believe not. In fact, on the way toward the Copenhagen Summit; there was a belief that an agreement to replace Kyoto Protocol would be reached. We are certain that to agreement will be reached and it is also apparent which direction we are heading to. All residents of the blue planet now see that we have to change our life styles. Negotiation positions demonstrated both by developing and developed countries give a hint considering the direction of affairs. Everyone manifests his position; while Turkey, though signed the Kyoto protocol and had the change to voice opinion, remains quite silent. But why is that so?

    In fact, there already was an agreement before. The protocol was settled in 1997 and put into effect in 2005. Several countries including Turkey accepted the protocol just by the end of November 2009. Because United States of America (USA) who has caused 36.1 percent of global carbon emission by 1990 have not participated in the protocol. Just a decade ago, the world was quite different than it is today. Today, share of the USA in global carbon emission dropped to 20 percent leaving the top rank to China with 20.1 percent.

    Why? Process of globalization spread with its great opportunities the life style attained by our civilization to a larger part of the globe. Our civilization has slightly expanded the domain in Asia. What does this mean? Our civilization is a technical one. Public relations activities such as Meeting of Civilizations must not confuse your minds. In order to continue our daily lives, we need energy at a certain amount. In line with the level of development our civilization achieved, we have to heat our houses in winter in the same way both in Ankara and in New York. We cannot restrain from illuminating our houses at night as if they are holy places; and we need energy for this too. Amount of energy we need to turn on one bulb is the same in Tel Aviv an in Kabul; of course if electricity is delivered in the latter. The automobile you ride to your work in the mornings consumes the same amount of energy in Jeddah and in Madrid. At the current level our technical civilization reached, our life style requires fossil energy sources.  This is of course closely related with the technology we employ. Technology we use constitutes the basis of our civilization.

    Thus, the issue is quite simple: from now onwards, we have both to diversify and change the main energy sources on which our life styles are based. This implies that environment policy design actually refers to energy policy design. What makes the beautiful blue planet inhabitable is in fact the source of energy the technology we use to pursue our life styles is based on. Altering the source of energy means altering the technology. Taking a step in the framework of COP15 implies substantial change and cost. First, we have to review all devices we use in our daily lives in terms of the energy source they use. Look around you and start naming them.  Second, such a significant change should involve a large attempt for technological renovation. Third, such a process will incur substantial costs. So, this is the problem of today: who will bear the costs? The most prominent difference of COP15 from Kyoto process is that it proposes not only developed but also developing countries should step in to undertake the burden. Nonetheless, this is not purely correct. If you do not have a strong transportation infrastructure based on fossil fuels, it will not incur high costs to switch to a world not based on fossil fuels. Of course this is an example; such a shift can incur substantial costs in other aspects but elevation of costs is not unquestionable.

    So, where does the hope lie? The hope is hidden in the market mechanism. Changing our life styles from a certain technological infrastructure based on a certain energy source to another one also offers a great opportunity for profits. Significant business opportunities arise shifting from one phase to another. Number of firms working to figure out how the new technology will be shaped increases. Better Places, for instance, is one among those firms. Their goal is to establish the infrastructure required for electricity automobiles. The arising dynamism is astonishing. First experiment will be held in Tel Aviv. While you check on the firm, I will tell you what I think.

    By the way, Turkey does not hold a specific position in COP15, at least as far as I am concerned. The reason is quite simple: A country that does not have industrial policy cannot have energy policy. And a country that does not have an energy policy cannot have an environment policy. Just as that country cannot have foreign policy either. Such country can only wander around in Copenhagen. The current situation in Turkey has nothing to do with the pivotal shift discussions going around. Lack of opinion in our side is not because that the green we perceive is different. I wish you all a happy weekend.


    This commentary was published in Referans daily on 12.12.2009