EU calls on Ankara to ratify Kyoto Protocol

( Cihan ) - The EU has revived its call on Turkey to ratify the Kyoto Potocol, while Turkey insists that ratifying the Kyoto Protocol before the completion of major energy investments in the country will lead to serious economic and social problems. The European Commission's recent screening report on the environment demonstrated the risk that Turkey might face through the " Kyoto criteria," either to open or close negotiations on the environmental chapter.

The EU has established an even more ambitious road map than the Kyoto Protocol, setting the objective of a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. Although the new target only applies to the 27 EU-member states, it is also raising the parameters for candidate countries like Turkey.

Turkey, a party to the U.N. Climate Change Convention since 2004, is among few countries in the world which has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol. Turkey sees the problem as one of contributing to reducing the burden on global resources at a low cost while not jeopardizing its economic and social development. Ankara argues that ratifying the Kyoto Protocol before the completion of major energy investments in the country will lead to serious economic and social problems. Turkey has less greenhouse gas emissions per capita than both OECD countries and the countries of most economies in transition. However, internationally recognized data shows that Turkey is also among the countries which has had the highest increase in the production of total greenhouse gas emissions. EU experts say that if Turkey does not take the necessary steps now to transpose its environmental and climate change policies, the possible economic and political costs will be too high during the latter phases of negotiations.

The expectations from Turkey for tackling climate change in the new era were clearly labeled in the European Commission's screening report for the negotiating chapter on environment. The report, which was concluded by the Commission in June, said the obligations arising from the Kyoto Protocol are an integral part of the acquis on climate change. The commission urged Turkey to ratify Kyoto, to put in place a national solid system for the yearly and timely submission of the inventory of greenhouse gas emissions, to take on a target for the first commitment period and to start preparations to take on a post 2012 target. Although the Commission did not recommend ratification of Kyoto Protocol as an opening benchmark for the chapter on environment, the discussions on the report will kick off today at the enlargement group of the Council.

The European Commission judged in its screening report that Turkey cannot be considered prepared for negotiations on the environmental chapter. It said although some positive steps were taken in sectors such as waste and noise, Turkish legislation for environment is only partially in line with EU acquis in this area. The Commission drew attention to the need for significant investments and development of financing plans for harmonization of Turkey's environment policies. The cost of environmental reform to Turkey was not estimated in the Commission's report. The estimated overall investment costs for modernization of drinking water treatment plants and urban waste water collecting systems is over 33 billion euros. The commission said that considerable efforts will have to be made by Turkey at the stage of implementation since large scale investments are needed related to the construction and modernization of drinking water treatment plants and distribution networks, as well as of urban waste water collecting systems and treatment plants. Special attention should be paid to water supply in rural areas. The estimated costs of compliance in the waste sector are over nine billion euros.

The Commission also judged that Turkey needs to pay attention to environmental information. In particular, the right of any applicant to access environmental information needs to have a firm basis in Turkish legislation. In the field of civil protection, Turkey needs to complete the work on the establishment of a Communication and Information System in emergency situations and reinforce the effective coordination of the work of different bodies at national, regional and local levels. The report also said that Turkey needs to define and designate Special Protection Areas under the wild birds directive, as well as compile the national list of Sites of Community Importance under the habitats directive.

The commission also urged Turkey to transpose the legislation in the chemical sector paying early attention to completing alignment with the relevant provisions of the dangerous substances directive and the risk assessment regulation, which are obligations of the Customs Union. According to the report, Turkey needs to carry out the assessment of the national chemical sector and establish the National Chemical Monitoring System. Turkey needs to proceed with ratification of the Stockholm Convention. Turkey is also required to put in place the legal framework relating to import and export of dangerous chemicals to enable ratification of the Rotterdam Convention.

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