If the world continue to “take wrong decisions that might seem like cheap solutions”, some investments can “turn into a disaster for our lifecycle”, urged Connie Hedegaard, former EU Commissioner on Climate Change, amid a major green protest in Turkey’s Artvin against a new gold mine.
Thousands of locals and environmentalists in the Black Sea province, known as one of the richest green areas of Turkey, have been protesting a company’s efforts for extracting mine backed by severe intervention of police and gendarmerie using tear gas and batons.
“You could say that a key message from Paris [COP21] was that in the future, we must be less dependent on particularly coal, then comes oil, then comes gas” Connie Hedegaard told DHA, referring to the major climate summit where countries agreed an action plan in Dec.
“We must invest much more in the alternatives. In principal, it is extremely good when citizens start to grasp Paris' message” said Hedegaard , saluting Artvin locals’ fight.
"It is all about implementation"
Turkey’s top business body Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD) held a meeting entitled “Post-Paris Analysis: Cop21 Follow-up” on Feb. 22. The need for transition to a “carbon-low economy” was underlined by the business world.
Connie Hedegaard, who made an opening speech at the meeting, has said the approach of “first grow, then clean-up” has been increasingly dismissed by countries.
Speaking to DHA, Hedegaard also expressed her empathy with the difficulty of big transformations, “when the winners and losers are not always the same” as a former politician herself. “You have to do investments in a new kind of policy but you only get the benefits later” she added.
“But that is exactly why we should get the policy and implementation plans in place. We should do our utmost to not to continue to take wrong decisions that might seem like cheap solutions. Investments that look okay now can turn into a disaster for our lifecycle” she said.
According to Hedegaard, COP21 showed the world that “it is all about implementation”. “What matter is that all governments go home, implement their INDC [the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions] from now” she said.
"A new coal fire plant will stay there for 60 years"
Having called on the business world to “come up with good business cases”, she urged that municipalities should also act together. “Each of us as citizens must reflect on what is our responsibility to move to a low carbon society” Hedegaard underlined.
How will the business world contribute to the fight against climate change, then?
According to Connie Hedegaard, “the energy system is key”. “Whether we want to open a new coal fire plant or a coal mine, it will stand there for 50-60 years. If it is not the direction we want, we should think of the alternatives.”
Politicians, governments, but also the business community should “think about energy and resource efficiency”, so how to reuse resource instead of the “produce, consume, throw away” kind of thinking, she urged.
Economy not based on fossil fuel needed
“We must start to get our growth in a different manner that is not so much based on a fossil fuel level as it was in the past” Hedegaard added.
Connie Hedegaard addressed Turkey’s “growing emission over many years”, also explaining that she understood the challenges to bend this increasing curb.
“However, a growing society in Turkey has the possibility to make some right choices. In order to implement the INDC in a cost efficient manner, the sooner the country starts, the cheaper it will be” she said, calling on Turkey not to postpone its acts and prevent “a huge bill to be paid someday”.
Having suggested long term strategies for low carbon economic growth, “We need to know how to get the skills, jobs that we need, while thinking for the long term, not only short term” she said.
“If we do not start to solve the climate change now, it will be a big headache for generations to come” Connie Hedegaard insisted.