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Towards A Greener Future

Merih Kepez-SB

The virtual summit on climate change (Leaders Summit on Climate) on April 22nd was a critical moment for the world as it faces up to the challenge of our warming planet. By setting out a target to halve US greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, the US Administration has demonstrated that it truly prioritizes the climate friendly policies both at domestic and global levels. The US is on the right track, acknowledging that this is a decisive decade in the battle against rising temperatures. The steps taken by the new Administration on this issue are very welcome and they have constituted an important that we should take into consideration as the business world.

It’s a particularly exciting time because this month’s summit does not exist in isolation. As we have been looking at in Business Diplomacy, the European Green Deal is itself a brave plan for making the EU’s economy more sustainable. In fact, it’s an important roadmap for Turkey’s near neighbourhood that will directly impact the way that we do business.

This mounting Transatlantic consensus is critical for making real, tangible progress toward the goal of limiting warming to 1.5C. The global community working together-different countries and regions, businesses, and each of us individually-is the way forward to unlocking the opportunities of this, as well as achieving the objective.

Taken together, these two major events are vital stepping stones toward the critical United Nations COP-26 summit scheduled to place in the UK in November. The presence of Turkey among the 40 nations invited by the White House to work together is important. At this point, it would be appropriate to state that our country is determined to do its part at the level of government, state, and non-state actors in terms of protecting our environment.

The businesses which do best at identifying the opportunities will do the most to help. It is right to identify non-state actors as critical to the mission. Besides, it is not all about imposing new costs and burdens on how we do business. It is much more about innovation, the creation of new products, learning better ways of moving goods around the world and in our supply chains.

Because the answer to the challenge is not Covid-style lockdowns. Yes, there was a short-term, dramatic fall in emissions when the world shut down last year. A collapse in the level of flying, businesses being shuttered, and hundreds of millions staying at home is one way to deliver that fall in emissions. But it’s not the only way and it’s certainly not the best way.

Private sector innovation will lead the way out of this climate crisis. Companies will come up with new ways to prevent temperatures from rising further and maybe even to reverse some of the increase that’s already happened. John Kerry, the US Special Envoy on Climate, is right to be looking to transformational technology as a way to find solutions. This will create millions of new, high-quality jobs all over the world. In fact, it will also help protect people most at risk from extreme weather and other impacts from a changing climate.

None of this is science fiction: Turkish business is an exemplar of these trends, both independently and in partnership with international partners. Clean electricity is now affordable for all, including those in developing countries. US-based First Solar, the first solar company to lower its manufacturing cost to $1 per watt, is collaborating with TAİK member Zorlu Enerji to help make it happen. These fantastic companies are working to build a brand-new factory in Turkey that will manufacture enough solar panels every year to create 10.000 megawatts of power annually. One of Zorlu’s subsidiaries is now also a major distributor of First Solar’s panels, selling them to 26 counties.

The partnerships continue. The Bahce Wind Farm in Turkey’s Osmaniye Province is the country’s third-largest wind farm. Each one of the farm’s 54 wind turbines was manufactured by GE Wind Energy, a giant headquartered in Fairfield Connecticut. The turbines are making a contribution to Turkey’s surging renewable grid and supporting a wind industry that can export across our region.

And it’s not just energy: Turkey is continuing to make strides in electric vehicles – whether it’s the government-led TOGG factory or Karsan’s electric, automated buses. This industry signals a breakthrough for a brand-new industry for our country that will fuel exports and support many manufacturing jobs here at home. Furthermore, the fact that Arçelik, one of the largest home appliances manufacturers in the world, has begun performing its global production operation carbon-free stands out as another important development.

The picture is clear: Together, Turkish and US companies are innovating and investing in a greener future for our planet. It’s a real reason to be optimistic for a cleaner, greener, more sustainable future for our economies and lives.

Deputy Secretary General at DEİK Merih Kepez Örnek

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