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What Happened Before the GNAT Ratified the Paris Agreement?

In the first days of October 2021, the 5th legislative year started in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (GNAT). The GNAT's first act was ratifying the Paris Agreement, which Turkey signed in 2016.[1] Following the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2016, various members of the parliament called for the ratification of the agreement by the GNAT. As these efforts continued until October 2021, the five years leading up to the Paris Accords being approved by parliament were filled with discussions between the government and the opposition front.

A study by the Center for Democracy Research (CDR) analyzed the motions given to the parliament between the signing and approval of the Paris Accords. Additionally, to better understand the course leading up to signing the agreement, we extended the time period by one year in our research. Thus, our data collection period started a year before signing the Paris Agreement and ran until its 5th anniversary.

According to our research, 43 parliamentary inquiries are addressed by the parliamentary general assembly.[2] Only five motions were accepted by the GNAT. Furthermore, there were 62 motions of written questions, 36 of which were answered after the 15-day response period, 10 of which were answered on time, and 16 not received any response. Considering the statistics available, one could conclude that the government either did not wish to organize a plan with parliament's backing or that the government deemed it inappropriate to answer the allegations against its policies. Upon looking at the motions in detail, the situation is considerably more complicated than it appears.

While conducting our research, we encountered situations where parliamentary inquiries took an abnormally long time to debate.  We then expanded our study to include parliamentary proceedings. Thus, we found that an opposition member often prepares a motion to establish a parliamentary inquiry committee to ensure that Turkey's environmental resources are protected. But the government front, which is made up of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), often rejects such motions with the majority it has in the voting stage. It is usually the government front that explains its voting pattern by explaining that certain ministries are actually working on the motion's objective. According to this repeated statement, the AKP-MHP alliance claims the current government in Turkey does everything it can to solve climate change. That means they don't have to answer to opposition party members in the GNAT.

For example, in 2016, Hüseyin Yıldız, an MP from People's Republican Party (CHP), presented a motion to open a parliamentary inquiry to determine the causes of air pollution in Aydın and its surroundings.[3] After reading the motion's text, Abdurrahman Öz, an MP from AKP, stated that "...It was an injustice to Aydın to talk about air pollution as a province established on the Menderes Plain between the Aydın Mountains..."[4]. While this statement is completely irrelevant, it is to be expected in parliament. Co-operation between the opposition and government is often difficult due to tensions between both sides. As a result, MPs from opposite sides of parliament usually distrust one another's speeches, motions, and other kinds of statements. While the GNAT acknowledges climate change's realities, a difference in ideology prevents the GNAT from finding effective solutions to the problem.

The GNAT ratified the Paris Agreement on 6th October 2021[5]. The last G20 nation to ratify the agreement was Turkey. However, the country's future behavior is worrying. In recent years, Turkey, under President Erdoğan's leadership, challenged various international agreements. Such as Turkey’s Istanbul Convention exit[6], and Politician Selahattin Demirtaş’s detention of more than four years despite the two European Court of Human Rights rulings[7]. As a result, Turkey's commitment to the agreement is questionable. At the same time, Turkey still protests its classification as an "Industrialized Country" in the Annex I section of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).[8] Because of the classification, UNFCC expects Turkey to raise its efforts to match the most economically advanced countries. But President Erdogan believes that Turkey is not historically responsible for the efforts Turkey is expected to do. Thus, Erdogan states that Turkey should be hold accountable for its own historical responsibilities.[9]

Despite the ratification of the Paris Accords giving hope, we believe and recommend that all MPs cooperate to combat climate change. The efforts for a greener future should never be slowed down by political views or party affiliations.

 


[1]  “Paris Anlaşması,” Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Çevre ve Şehircilik Bakanlığı, https://iklim.csb.gov.tr/paris-anlasmasi-i-98587

[2] “İklim Konulu Soru Önergeleri,” CDR İklim Projesi, https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Am6Z2Y57Qi01qejNahe7P87anLxrQ8wwo_wdIQ3CIRY/edit?usp=sharing

[3] Hüseyin Yıldız, “333 Sayılı Meclis Araştırması Önergesi,” TBMM, https://www2.tbmm.gov.tr/d26/10/10-31874gen.pdf

[4] Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi, Tutanak Dergisi, 82. Birleşim, 27 Eylül 2016. https://www5.tbmm.gov.tr/tutanak/donem26/yil1/ham/b08201h.htm

[5] Resmi Gazete, 7 Temmuz 2021, https://www.resmigazete.gov.tr/eskiler/2021/10/20211007M1.pdf

[6] “Turkey’s Announced Withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention Endangers Women’s Rights,” Council of Europe, 22 March 2021, https://www.coe.int/en/web/commissioner/-/turkey-s-announced-withdrawal-from-the-istanbul-convention-endangers-women-s-rights

[7] “European Parliament resolution of 21 January 2021 on the human rights situation in Turkey, in particular the case of Selahattin Demirtaş and other prisoners of conscience,” European Parliament, 21 January 2021, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/TA-9-2021-0028_EN.html

[8] United Nations Climate Change UNFCCC Parties, https://unfccc.int/process/parties-non-party-stakeholders/parties-convention-and-observer-states

[9] A. Küçükgöçmen, “Turkey ratifies Paris Climate Agreement; last G20 country to do so,” Reuters, 6 October 2016. Retrieved October 13, 2021. https://www.reuters.com/business/environment/turkey-ratifies-paris-climate-agreement-last-g20-country-do-so-2021-10-06/

CONTRIBUTOR
Arda Ozan Sirkeci
Arda Ozan Sirkeci

Arda Ozan Sirkeci is a founding board member and Editor-in-Chief of the Center for Democracy Research (CDR).

Yusuf Emre Serali
Yusuf Emre Serali

Yusuf Emre Serali is an attorney at law and founding Vice President of the Center for Democracy Research (CDR).

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