As humanity, we have left another challenging year behind us. The COVID-19 pandemic, which started at the end of 2019 and is still ongoing, along with the tension between Russia and Ukraine, has resulted in our world facing disruptions in the food and energy supply chain while also experiencing economic stagnation that has affected many major economies.
Global climate change, triggered by record-high greenhouse gas emissions, exacerbates the impact of these adversities and increases the magnitude of risks and threats going forward. According to the Global Risks Report 2023 published by the World Economic Forum, the top four risks expected to impact the global economy over the next 10 years are focused on environmental and climate-related issues, highlighting the severity of the situation.
The provisional report on the Global Climate Outlook for 2022, released by the World Meteorological Organization on November 6, indicates that the period from 2015 to 2022 contained the eight warmest years on record. It also draws attention to the fact that increased greenhouse gas emissions have led to a temperature increase of +1.15°Ccompared to the pre-industrial era.
Similarly, evaluations by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) show that despite the temporary cooling effect of La Nina in the Pacific, 2022 was determined to be the fifth warmest year on record.
To assess the scale and impacts of combating climate change, the UN Environment Programme published the 2022 Emissions Gap and Adaptation Gap reports. These reports highlight that by the end of the century, global temperature rise will reach levels around +2.4°C compared to the pre-industrial era, and every delay in the adaptation process leads to an increase in the required financing. Thus, they emphasize the urgency of addressing the climate issue.
A Year Full with Disasters
Climate change; in 2022, the increase in the number, intensity, and frequency of many meteorological disasters such as heatwaves, cold waves, droughts, forest fires, and heavy rainfall, which were experienced in many regions of the world, has led to major disasters.
Heatwaves in Asia, particularly in Shandong, China’s second most populous province, reached record levels of energy consumption due to the excessive use of air conditioning, putting pressure on energy systems. Following the heatwaves that affected Asia, continuous monsoon rains impacted Bangladesh, affecting 4 million people, including 1.6 million children, and causing 60 deaths. In the floods that occurred in Pakistan, 30 million people were affected, 8 million people were displaced, and the death toll exceeded 1,700. According to assessments by the World Bank, the economic impact of the disaster exceeded 30 billion USD.
The heatwaves experienced in 2022 revealed the threat of drought in many regions. The World Food Program warned that drought in a large part of Africa could lead to 19 million people facing famine, while a statement by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission in August regarding the heatwaves of Europe indicated that Europe was experiencing its driest period in the last 500 years.
The heatwaves in Europe caused forest fires covering tens of thousands of hectares in countries like France and Spain, while the heat in May in the state of New Mexico in the US resulted in forest fires and the declaration of a state emergency in the region.
Typhoons and floods in places like Australia, the Philippines, Brazil, and the US have caused hundreds of casualties, and a report by the Christian Aid Development and Relief Agency stated that Hurricane Ian, which affected Cuba and the US, caused more than 100 billion USD in damages. The report also mentioned that while droughts were occurring in Africa, flood disasters in countries such as Nigeria, Mali, and Cameroon in the western part of the continent resulted in over 600 deaths.
Both Parties Take Important Steps at Conferences
2022 was a year in which significant decisions were made at the parties’ conference regarding contracts in the areas of climate change and biodiversity. During COP27 held in Egypt in November, a decision was made to establish a ‘loss and damage fund’ to compensate for losses and damages caused by climate change for the first time, and this development was welcomed, especially by developing and least developed countries. It is worth noting that the implementation of this decision in a fair manner is consistent with the principle of ‘polluter pays’ and is also in line with the fundamental arguments of climate justice and leaving no one behind.
In the following month, during COP15, another agreement signed along with the Framework Convention on Climate Change, a common agreement was reached aiming to protect approximately one-third of the planet by 2030. This situation also emphasizes the interconnection between climate change and biodiversity.
Solution Requires Transformation
In light of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sixth assessment reports, many steps have been taken to ensure that global temperature increase is in line with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. In particular, the focus on clean technologies to overcome the energy crisis caused by the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine War has turned the climate crisis into an opportunity. The approach of climate clubs, which was initiated by the European Union’s Green Deal process announced in 2019 and accepted during the G7 Summit meetings in 2022, and the increasing use of financial instruments similar to emission trading systems, which are effective mechanisms for reducing carbon emissions, will trigger an urgent transformation.
In Türkiye, environmental factors have been prioritized over the past twenty years, and policies have been developed based on sustainable environment. Successful green transformation projects have been implemented in many sectors such as industry, heating, transformation, and energy. Activities have started to promote sustainable production and consumption patterns. In this context, the ‘International Zero Waste Day’ accepted by the UN through Türkiye’s initiative has become one of our successful and exemplary projects that resonated globally.
At this stage, Türkiye has set a target of net zero emissions by 2053, focusing on green transformation in the era of the new century. The first climate summit has been organized, and preparations for climate legislation have reached their final stages. Furthermore, efforts have been intensified within the framework of low-carbon growth, giving priority to renewable and clean energy sources, achieving significant process in reducing energy intensity, and moving forward with green transformation themes in transportation, industry, and heating. The 12th Development Plan, which includes the country’s road map for the next five years, and the strategic plan, which includes the ministry’s road map, emphasize the theme of green transformation, thereby prioritizing the more effective utilization of our country’s potential in the fight against climate change.