Turkey's failure to ratify Paris climate deal risks trade ties - businessmen

Turkey should formally approve the Paris climate agreement or risk serious obstructions to trade, the country’s top business groups told parliament.

“We will put ourselves in a position where we can’t even sign free trade agreements,” Ahmet Saygın Baban, a senior manager at the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB), said on Wednesday, according to the Dünya newspaper.

Turkey is one of six countries that have signed up to the 2015 accord but failed to ratify it. The group also includes Yemen, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Eritrea. As of today, 195 states have signed the deal, according to the United Nations. 

Ratification of the accord should be a strategic priority, said Fatih Özkadı, head of a working group on the environment and climate change at the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD).

Baban and Özkadı were speaking at a gathering of a parliamentary commission tasked with investigating climate change, Dünya said.

On Wednesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke of his government’s commitment to protecting the environment and dealing with pollution as the country forges ahead with large infrastructure projects.

Erdoğan’s government has faced criticism from environmentalists and opposition parties for railroading construction of airports, roads and large apartment buildings on previously protected land. The president has also promoted coal power to reduce Turkey’s reliance on imported energy.

This month, the government was forced to defend its policies on the environment after a swathe of ‘sea snot’ gathered along Turkey’s coastline in the Sea of Marmara. The problem has been caused by sewage and other pollutants and exacerbated by global warming, according to local scientists.