#EuropeanGreenDeal could re-energize EU relations with #Turkey 

| January 13, 2020

The new European Green Deal is a bold statement of intent. The Commission plans to zero out its contributions to climate change and transform Europe’s economy in the process.  President von der Leyen described it as the EU’s “man on the moon moment” – and she’s right, with its launch the new President has set herself a demanding challenge for the year ahead, writes Fatih Kemal Ebiçlioğlu.

This is an ambitious vision for the next generation, embedding climate and sustainability at the very heart of business and economic development, but to be effective, she must build support from outside the Union. After all, The President can only truly tackle the climate question on a global scale – and Turkey should be her first port of call.

We cannot ignore the issues that von der Leyen has inherited in the relationship between Brussels and Ankara, but this bold new strategy is an opportunity to reenergise our alliance. The importance of sustainability and climate protection is a value Turkey and Turkish businesses share deeply with the EU. Renewable growth is at the centre of our policy making – and our business landscape.

By signing the Paris Agreement, Turkey has shown its commitment to strategic partnerships for climate protection – these wheels are already in motion.

According to the 2019 Renewables Report by the International Energy Agency, the only European countries predicted to have developed greater capacity in renewable energy than Turkey within the next five years are France, Germany, Italy and Spain. By that point, – the year of the next EU election cycle – the IEA predicts Turkey will be placed 11th worldwide in terms of our production of renewable energy, having recorded an expected 50% growth in renewable capacity.

This is excellent progress by any standard – progress driven by Turkish businesses. With remarkable momentum in hydroelectric power over the last decade, the country’s growth in renewables will be marked by the enthusiasm of businesses in harnessing solar and wind power. Incentives for business owners to generate solar power will be a key force behind our renewable growth, with projects such as installing solar panelled roofs.

Turkey has gradually built its sustainable roadmap, brick by brick, and in tandem with the EU. Turkey’s National Energy Efficiency Action Plan, introduced in line with the EU Energy Efficiency Directive expects a 14% deduction in primary energy consumption by 2023.

Turkish financial institutions also show commitment to developing sustainable and responsible investment. Six leading banks in Turkey have committed to the UN’s Principles for Responsible Banking, accelerating the industry’s contribution to achieving a more positive social and environmental impact. Nationwide solutions on infrastructure and lowering transportation emissions have been introduced with projects such as the Eurasian Tunnel, and improving the energy efficiency of buildings is becoming mandatory.

This track record hasn’t gone unnoticed.

The European Commission pointed to Turkey’s strong progress in security of energy supply, renewable energy, and energy efficiency in its most recent communication on enlargement.

Turkey’s waste and circular economy policies have also taken root.  Collection schemes for ozone depleting gases, market transformation and replacement of less efficient products with higher efficiency models, have become standard. Using single use-plastics in recycled components, businesses in Turkey are now running hand to hand with global single-use plastics policies.

It has long been clear that enhanced collaboration is the way forward in growing a sustainable economy that delivers both environmental protection and economic prosperity. Tackling climate change is a global effort, and the more we can do to foster cooperation – such as expanding the borders of an EU Carbon Border Tax, as part of a modernized customs union, the greater will be our impact.

Not only that, but commerce must be the driving force behind this revolution. Businesses in Turkey and the EU have demonstrated that this does not need to come at expense of growth. They are ready and willing to support an upgraded EU-Turkish dialogue to foster sustainable economic relations – be it through the development of green technologies, facilitating cross-border investments for renewable infrastructure or promoting city-to-city collaborations on smart schemes.

The European Green Deal will be a pivotal success marker for von der Leyen. If she is to realise the EU’s ambitions of becoming a global force for sustainability that works for all, achieving greater cooperation with its neighbours is non-negotiable.

If this is the EU’s man on the moon, it needs all the help it can muster to make a giant leap for mankind.   It would be hard pressed to find a more beneficial and willing partner than Turkey.

Fatih Kemal Ebiçlioğlu is the president for Durable Goods Group at Koç Holding, Turkey’s leading investment holding company and the largest industrial and services group. Ebiçlioğlu also sits on the board of Arçelik, Europe’s fourth-biggest white goods company and who were recognised as the Industry Leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) Household Durables Category by RobecoSAM last year.


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Category: A Frontpage, Environment, EU, Turkey

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