What is the Paris Agreement and why is it such a big deal?
Paris agreement is an international agreement aiming to limit global warming to below 1.5 degrees. It was created and is improved upon annually in the COP conferences. To this date, 197 countries have ratified the agreement. The agreement by itself isn’t exceptional. There are very few actually binding clauses. Therefore, it is more so an agreement containing unambitious goals than it is a binding set of rules. It would be fair to say that this agreement is the bare minimum that must be done. Due to the unanimous nature of the agreement, most clauses only use words such as “encourages” or “supports”.
Although the reality might be that this is but an agreement where delegates talk about their dreams of how to fix things without actually having to do it, it definitely is a start. First and foremost, this is the most international climate agreement we’ve been able to pass. There’s no other agreement of this size. That by itself means that we’ve come to a place where all governments who’ve signed the documents want to act on climate change (at least in theory). Moreover, coming to a common understanding of our course of action is crucial. The Paris Agreement provides a platform on which to discuss how we should proceed as a united front.
So who hasn’t signed it yet?
Currently, there are 7 countries who refuse to sign the agreement:
- South Sudan
Of these countries only 2 of them are responsible for more than 1% of emissions: Turkey and Iran.
Differing from other countries, we have Turkey, who is the only NATO member and the only G20 member to not have ratified the treaty. Moreover, Turkey as a developing country with fairly cheap local renewable energy prices available would benefit from this agreement.
Turkey and the Paris Agreement
In April 22nd 2016, Turkey did in fact sign the agreement. However, it didn’t bring the agreement to the floor of the congress for it to be ratified. Turkey’s main reasoning behind not ratifying the treaty is that they won’t eligible for the “Green Climate Fund”. Be that as it may, the main reason behind the creation of the “Green Climate Fund” is to help out small developing and island nations who have very little effect on the crisis itself.
Turkey under these circumstances, is considered a developed nation although it is normally classified as a developing nation in almost all other areas. Turkey is insisting on being eligible for these funds. Putting aside whether or not they should be eligible, Turkey’s general approach to foreign policy seems to be “My way or the highway.”
Although the Paris Agreement is not perfect, representatives of nations have to learn to make compromises. Not joining this agreement is a big foreign policy and climate action mistake as pretending a problem doesn’t exist doesn’t make it go away.
In the end Turkey has so much potential for more renewable energy use and greener jobs. Yet, with everything else in the political agenda, these issues seem to be forgotten. Not only would ratifying this agreement would hold Turkey internationally accountable, but it would also prevent further economic losses during this period.