COP28 summit opens as Erdogan talks on Gaza, net-zero commitment

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attended the COP28 summit in Dubai, along with heads of state and monarchs, citing Daily Sabah.

Erdogan took part in the shooting of family photos prior to the formal opening of the high-level part of the summit, where presidents, prime ministers and other top officials addressed the gathering.

In his speech to the summit, Erdogan summed up Türkiye's expectations while also touching on the Palestine-Israel conflict.

In the wake of the Ukraine-Russia conflict and the coronavirus pandemic, the world is currently confronted with the agonizing repercussions of the Gaza massacres. During each of these crises, Türkiye has advocated for a peaceful resolution grounded in principles of justice and equity. Similarly, we are approaching climate change from this vantage point. Utilizing our own resources, we are undertaking significant measures despite the fact that our historical contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is less than 1%. We expect to achieve the net-zero emissions target by the year 2053. With this in mind, we anticipate a 66.6 million-ton reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by the conclusion of the year, having doubled our target for emission reductions through 2030. At present, 55% of our installed electricity capacity is derived from renewable energy sources. We rank fifth in Europe and 12th in the world with this rate. We rank fourth globally and first in Europe in terms of installed geothermal capacity. We rank second in Europe and ninth in the world in terms of installed capacity of hydroelectric power plants," Erdogan said.

The president noted that Türkiye implemented its own hydrogen technologies strategy and in pursuit of a net-zero emission target, finalized its decarbonization road maps for the steel, aluminum, cement and fertilizer industries.

"We intend to increase the proportion of renewable energy to 69% by 2053," Erdogan stressed.

The president also referred to the zero waste initiative initiated by first lady Emine Erdoğan. "By means of the initiative, the waste recycling rate is projected to surge to 60% by the year 2035," he said.

"It is widely acknowledged that these endeavors entail substantial financial input. In this regard, it is critical that we have more equitable access to climate finance resources and opportunities for technology transfer. We have not strayed from our objectives in the realms of the economy or the fight against climate change, notwithstanding the catastrophic earthquake that struck on February 6. Thankfully, we are swiftly recovering from the earthquake-induced devastation that has impacted 11 provinces and 14 million individuals within our nation. We place utmost importance on the construction of climate-friendly and environmentally sustainable structures when undertaking the reconstruction of our urban areas," he said.

Erdogan noted that Türkiye would host the 60th session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in Istanbul in January and Türkiye's candidacy to host the 31st United Nations Climate Change Conference in 2026.

On the sidelines of the summit, Erdogan held talks with several prominent names attending the event, including Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

First lady Emine Erdogan was also scheduled to speak at the summit at a Climate Talks event.

Ankara advocates for more concrete action against the impact of climate change and the prevention of global warming instead of commitment plans.

Türkiye aims to reach a net zero emission goal by 2053 and double its goal to 41% by 2030. It also revised its climate change law after consultation with relevant parties and based on scientific data. It boosted the size of its preserved areas and through ecological corridors, it expanded its green spaces. The country is also among the top three in the world with its 551 Blue Flag beaches.

In addition, Türkiye leads global efforts for recycling through the “Zero Waste Project” spearheaded by first lady Emine Erdogan. It was jointly developed on an international level last year by Erdogan and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

The declaration of goodwill, initially signed by the first lady and the U.N. chief, has since been endorsed by the spouses of nearly 30 heads of state, including ones from France, South Korea, Paraguay and Cuba. Launched in 2017 by the Ministry of Environment, Urban Planning and Climate Change under the patronage of Erdogan, the Zero Waste Project has led Türkiye’s fight against climate change. The initiative primarily aims to align the country with sustainable development principles, prevent uncontrolled waste and leave a “cleaner, developed” country for future generations.

The project received awards last year from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the U.N.-Habitat program. It was also included in an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) country report in 2019 as a promising project. Recently, it was honored by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean before the first lady was awarded the Climate and Development Leadership Award for the project by the World Bank.

The zero waste initiative has already stemmed 3.9 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions and saved billions of dollars. Some 150,000 buildings across Türkiye have switched to the zero waste management system, which involves the separate disposal of garbage and recycling practices.

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