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Europe offered Turkey cash to join Paris climate accord

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Turkey’s ratification of the Paris climate agreement this week came after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government was offered a guarantee of financial support in talks with France, Germany, the U.K. and two development banks.

The parliament in Ankara ratified the deal late Wednesday night, ending years of refusal to take the final legal step to join the international agreement to limit global warming it signed in 2015.

It came after a deal in principle to provide Turkey with financial support to clean up its emissions, which was struck between Ankara and officials from France, Germany, the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, according to two people who described aspects of the discussions. They would not confirm whether the governments themselves were the source of the funding, or the development banks. The details of the deal would be announced “in a timely manner,” one said.

The U.K. was also involved in the talks but not a signatory of the deal.

German Environment State Secretary Jochen Flasbarth called Turkey’s ratification “a very important step on which I cooperated long and intensively with our Turkish colleagues.”

Turkish Environment Minister Murat Kurum held talks last Saturday with U.K. COP26 President Alok Sharma, French Minister of Ecological Transition Barbara Pompili and Flasbarth.

An IFC Spokesperson said it was “glad to support Turkey as Turkey has chosen to ratify the Paris Agreement, but it is not correct that IFC funds have been pledged toward this end.”

After those discussions, Turkey announced a new goal of “net zero emissions” by 2053 — a precise date that may owe less to detailed economic analysis of Turkey’s emissions pathways than to the 600th anniversary of the fall of Byzantine Constantinople, today’s Istanbul, to the Ottoman Empire. Turkey hasn’t clarified if that goal is for all greenhouse gases or CO2 alone.

Turkey has withheld its legal assent to the climate accord as leverage in a decades-long campaign to be considered a developing country under the terms of the 1992 U.N. climate convention. That would make it eligible for a share of certain climate funds.

Turkey’s current status is in limbo, where countries have offered it an exemption from having to pay financial contributions, but it officially remains part of the group of developed nations.

Turkey’s ratification statement said it would implement the Paris deal “as a developing country.” But one of the people who described the deal with the European governments and banks said Turkey’s status under the convention would not change as part of the deal they had struck with Ankara.

Germany had floated a deal with Turkey as far back as 2017, but with the U.S. at that point shaping to withdraw from the Paris deal, Erdoğan was not subject to the pressure from major powers he has felt in the run-up to the COP26 climate talks, which start in Glasgow in a little over three weeks.

But with Joe Biden’s administration having rejoined the deal this year, Turkey was the only G20 economy not to have ratified the deal. Only Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Iran and Eritrea remain outside.

This article is part of POLITICO’s premium policy service: Pro Energy and Climate. From climate change, emissions targets, alternative fuels and more, our specialized journalists keep you on top of the topics driving the Energy and Climate policy agenda. Email [email protected] for a complimentary trial.

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