President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Saturday that Turkey will not be ratifying the Paris climate accord, citing President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the deal.
“After that step taken by America, the position that we adopt is in the direction of not passing it in parliament,” he told the press Saturday at the end of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.
Despite the fact that every other leader but Trump signed on to summit’s final statement asserting “the Paris agreement is irreversible,” Erdoğan said some of those countries had a “problem” with the accord and are “not renewing their support.”
In the lead-up to Trump’s decision to abandon the Paris deal, a top concern was that U.S. withdrawal could pave the way for other defectors. Russia would be on the top of the list of other countries that might follow suit — Putin has never liked the deal since it means much if not most of Russia’s fossil fuel reserves would remain in the ground, unable to provide vast revenue for him and his fellow Kremlin kleptocrats.
The most optimistic spin one can put on Erdoğan’s remarks is that he is seeking negotiating leverage. He said he had warned German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron at the summit, “No offense, but we will not pass it in our parliament as long as the promises made to us are not delivered.”
Erdoğan asserted that, at Paris, the previous French president (François Hollande) had promised Turkey would be considered a developing economy, rather than an industrialized one, so that it would get money from a global climate fund for cutting carbon pollution instead of having to pay into it.
Unfortunately, when Trump pulled out of Paris, he also said the U.S. wouldn’t cover $2 billion in unpaid commitments to that fund — casting doubt on the fund’s entire future, especially its ambitious goal of proving $100 billion a year in financing to developing countries by 2020. So if Turkey is hinging its ratification of Paris on getting a lot of money from this fund, it might be a long wait, especially if Trump were reelected.
The bottom line is that U.S. leadership matters to the ongoing future of Paris and global climate action. Trump’s abandoning the deal was reckless, and the best response at the G20 came from Merkel: “Unfortunately, and I deplore this, the United States of America left the climate agreement.”