Late, but not too late: Turkish efforts on climate change promising
Whether we like it or not, the signs of global climate change have begun to show in the beautiful lands of Anatolia; Turkey is one of the countries in the world where climate change has manifested itself most clearly. Despite the government taking necessary precautions, individuals also have a responsibility and must take action for a better future and a healthy planet
CLIMATE change is the new norm for every living thing across the world. It is a fact that we have to agree on and act to stop its consequences as much as we can. Our planet is heating up and despite efforts, it is impossible to reverse what has been done to the world and its atmosphere.
The term “global warming” was first used in a scientific article by geochemist Wallace Broecker of Columbia University in 1975; however, mankind started to impact the climate long before that. It was the Industrial Revolution that started the change in our atmosphere. The industrial activities that our modern civilization depends upon have raised atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from 280 parts per million to 400 parts per million in the last 150 years. Although scientists began to consider that increasing temperatures could cause irreversible damage to our planet, it was not until 1992 that the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change was established and countries around the world were mobilized to stop climate change before it was too late.
Located in Anatolia, with its fertile land and moderate climate, Turkey was one of the first countries to respond to the global effort as effects of the phenomenon had begun to manifest itself in the country after 1990. Preventing climate change is crucial for Turkey because its region has experienced significantly more drastic rising temperatures when compared to the global scale. Average summer temperatures increased by 1.5 degrees between the 1960s the the 2000s, and although spring and fall temperatures also increased, the rise was not as much when compared to the summer temperatures.
However, there are other factors in addition to increasing temperatures that indicate climate change is taking place in Turkey. For example, Turkey’s mountain glaciers have been retreating at a pace of about 10 meters per year. Likewise, snow has begun to melt earlier in recent years, which raises the water levels of Turkey’s snow-fed rivers earlier. Moreover, Turkey recently began experiencing sudden changes in temperature. Last year, provinces across Turkey’s Marmara and Black Sea regions were hit with floods and hailstorms in September, while heavy flooding affected big cities throughout the year. Apart from the increased incidents of flooding, which may also lead to an increase in the frequency of epidemics, Turkey also faces higher drought risks, hitting the country from its west to east and threatening the sustainability of Turkey’s agriculture.
Since the beginning of global mobilization to stop climate change and with the world getting warmer, Turkey has been a part of every initiative taken, as it will be one of the first countries that will be af- fected by the change. Turkey’s Environment and Urbanization Ministry teamed up with the European Union to educate the public on climate change and to come up with new projects to take action.
The goal of the Enhancing Required Joint Efforts on Climate Action Project is to foster the joint efforts in mitigating climate change in Turkey by means of increasing public understanding and enhancing stakeholder capacity, and gradually aligning the country with EU climate policies and legislation.
To reach this goal, the focus is on increasing national and local technical capacities in the field of climate change, raising target groups’ awareness on the topic and the need for immediate joint action, and providing project implementation support to the grant beneficiaries of the “Capacity Building in the Field of Climate Change in Turkey Grant Scheme” for generating solutions at a local level.
The 30-month project started last year and partners heavily with municipalities to reach out to the public and universities to educate young minds and raise awareness on the issue of climate change.
The project consists of three compo- nents. The first step is to train all segments of society, as even a little effort can lead to huge changes that can lessen the effects of global warming. Apart from academic training, the municipalities and the ministry will organize workshops, panel sessions and TV programs to raise awareness.
The second phase of the program is communication focusing on raising awareness in the target groups on climate change and the immediacy of joint climate action. In this context, campaign activities will be planned, carrying different messages for different target groups, and effective communication measures will be taken due to different awareness levels of these target groups, their different information needs and differences in media usage behaviors.
The third component of the project is the grants given by the project team. The management and monitoring of the “Capacity Building in the Field of Climate Change in Turkey Grant Scheme” is the most powerful component in terms of stakeholder impact. The grant scheme under the project covers 38 grant projects and involves various stakeholders such as municipalities, universities and nongovernmental organizations.