Ahead of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), the Paris climate accord is at the top of the world's agenda again after a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlighted serious risks and at a time when the world continues to experience a rise in environmental disasters.
Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change reached an agreement to fight climate change and achieve a sustainable low-carbon future at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris on Dec. 12, 2015.
The Paris Agreement, defined as "a bridge between today's policies and climate-neutrality before the end of the 21st century," seeks to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping global average temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels over the next century and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius if possible.
But the Paris deal continues to be in contradiction in some of its goals and structure since while it is hailed by some due to its role in prompting policy-makers to take ambitious actions in fighting climate change, it is also highly criticized by many due to its "non-binding" nature and insufficiency on targets.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Levent Kurnaz, a professor at the Center for Climate Change and Policy Studies at Istanbul's Bogazici University, criticized the commitments countries have made towards reducing carbon emissions and the framework of the accord, saying there is no logical relationship between what we ultimately want to achieve and what countries say they will do.
"Even if all countries have kept their promises, this agreement is leading us towards 3.5 degrees Celsius of warming. So keeping promises is not enough. Countries need to improve their commitments a few times more so that this agreement will get somewhere," he noted.
Also, since it is not a binding agreement, there would not be any sanctions in case commitments are not fulfilled, which are serious shortcomings of the Paris Climate Accord, Kurnaz added.
One of the latest examples of the gap between what we ultimately want to achieve and what countries say they will do is a report by the Climate Action Tracker, an independent scientific analysis that tracks government climate action and measures.
The report, which was published on Sept. 15, pointed out that despite last month's landmark UN report stressing the urgency of the climate change crisis, countries are not on track to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) sufficiently.
"Even countries with strong targets are mostly not on track to meet them (needed action to reduce GHGs), while more have failed to bring forward stronger commitments for 2030," it added.
However, the Paris deal is seen as the countries' most powerful tool to increase their actions in terms of reducing carbon emissions and new developments are taking place in fighting climate change in this context.
In his recent address at the UN General Assembly, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey plans to submit the Paris Climate Agreement for approval to its parliament next month under the country's national determination contribution statement and in conformity with positive steps to be taken.
Also, speaking on the importance of world leaders expressing their determination to fight climate change in Glasgow from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12, COP26 President Alok Sharma hailed Turkey's carbon neutrality target by 2050, adding that Turkey's ratification of the Paris Agreement will also strengthen the world's fight against climate change.
- IPCC report, COP26 meeting
Last month, the IPCC Working Group I report, Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis highlighted that global temperatures will likely rise 1.5 degrees Celsius by around 2030.
Scientists and experts in the field noted that the report not only had something new in terms of the urgency surrounding climate change, it also highlighted and stressed warnings more than ever.
Kurnaz said the report actually said that all our calculations so far have been optimistic and the situation is worse than we thought in previous reports.
"For the first time, this report said, without any doubt, that the source of climate change is humanity. Previous reports used words like "probably,” "90% likely," he said, adding this is an important statement.
Baran Bozoglu, the head of the Climate Change Policy and Research Association, based in the Turkish capital Ankara, said the report did not say much different from the previous ones but examined things a little more regionally and specifically mentioned the effect of methane gas.
"In fact, the IPCC report didn't tell us anything we didn't know, saying that the effect will increase in different scenarios, and of course, it will be difficult to meet the 1.5 degrees target," he added.
The report tells us that it is the last exit so as not to be late, said Bozoglu.
In response to a question on how the report will be effective at the COP26 meeting, he said it would be very optimistic to expect that those who have not taken any steps so far will take action immediately due to the IPCC report.
"That's why I emphasize climate change adaptation. It is certain that the will to solve this crisis was not shown by the countries of the world at these meetings. Therefore, in order to be affected by this crisis in the least way, both our country and the whole world should focus on adapting to climate change."
Pointing out that the world has entered the implementation phase of the Paris deal, Kurnaz said that how the Paris Agreement will be implemented will be discussed at COP26.
"The Paris Agreement also does not carry very important conditions. The decisions to be made here will not change the world too much," he also noted.
COP26 will take place in Glasgow between Oct. 31-Nov. 12.