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Striking issues debated at Climate Change Congress in Istanbul

Striking issues debated at Climate Change Congress in Istanbul

The Congress of Climate Change organized by the Sea Culture Association at Nişantaşı University with the theme of ‘Future is yours, protect your seas!’ focused on the issue of “The Seas and Maritime sector under the Threat of Climate Change”.

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The all-day event was attended by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, IMEAK Chamber of Shipping, and GISBIR (Turkish Shipbuilders’ Association) as the main supporters of the organization, and by the golden sponsors Jotun, Yaf Diesel, Sanmar, Most, MostLab, and Vento Shipping, the silver sponsors Uzmar, the Turkish Lloyd, Türk P&I, and Howden Insurance represented by their senior executives and CEOs.

There was a great interest in the congress, filling the whole congress hall by the representatives of the institutions and organizations, heads of non-governmental organizations, scholars, and students in maritime sector. Among the guests were the General Manager of Coastal Safety under the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, Durmuş Ünüvar; Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Nişantaşı University, Kenan Torlak; Nişantaşı University Rector, Prof. Şenay Yalçın; IMEAK Chamber of Shipping Council Chairman, Salih Zeki Çakır; IMEAK Chairman, Tamer Kıran; Vice Chairman of IMEAK Board of Directors and BIMCO (Baltic and International Maritime Council) President, Şadan Kaptanoğlu; Member of the Board of Directors, Başaran Bayrak; Turkish Shipowners' Association Vice Chairman, Cihan Ergenç; and Maritime Federation President, Erkan Dereli.

“NEXT YEAR WE WILL ORGANIZE THE CONGRESS IN THE FORM OF A SUMMIT”

The Sea Culture Association President and Editor-in-Chief of Vira News Magazine, Dr. Hakkı Şen delivered an inauguration speech at the congress. In his speech, he stated that the purpose of organizing the Congress of Climate Change was to explain to children and young people that global warming and climate change are major problems of our future and to raise their awareness on this issue. He criticised local administrations by saying “There is a great deal of work on the local administrations in this regard, but no local administrator participated in the congress despite our invitation”.

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Şen: “During the Congress of Climate Change, which is being organized for the second time, we are going to discuss what more we can do, not the achievements of the maritime sector so far. Of course, we will talk about what we have done to set an example for other sectors. What I believe is that it is a congress to be an exemplary model for all the industries in Turkey ... As a matter of fact, it is high time that all the industries put their thinking cap on. Our old planet is heading towards a disaster. We have used this planet so badly although we inherited it from our ancestors to entrust it to our children and the upcoming generations without abuse.

“What we will experience due to climate change is the common problem of all people living on earth. Moreover, it is the most current and most important one… All NGOs, institutions and organizations, every one of us should handle this issue with top priority. We can already say that we must hold this event as an international summit, not a congress starting from the next year. We need to draw attention to this very important issue on various topics by cooperating with the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea basins at first hand and then with the rest of the world… Because we are losing our world!”

“we can solve the CLIMATE CHANGE by COLLABORATIVE WORK

Prof. Dr. Şenay Yalçın, Nişantaşı University Rector, also drew attention to the importance of the Congress of Climate Change. She noted that global warming and climate change are the major global issues and there is a lot to be done by academicians in this respect. “The solution to the climate change may come from cooperating with academicians and universities” said Yalçın. “Especially thanks to the recent digital transformation, we are now able to reach a wider audience. It is important that we deliver to the next generations what we received from our ancestors”.

Şenay Yalçın pointed out that it is important to raise awareness about climate change and to bring up an enlightened generation. “To this end, children from pre-school should be given coding lessons in a variety of curricula. There is a lot to be done by educators in this respect. Universities, in collaboration with other institutions, must raise awareness on energy use. Meetings such as the Congress of Climate Change are important for raising awareness and conveying a message. I believe that this is such a valuable congress which will bring fruitful results.”

“AS THE INDUSTRY, WE ARE A PARTY TO ALL THE INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS”

Another speaker of the congress, IMEAK Chamber of Shipping Chairman Tamer Kıran underlined that the impact of climate change appears not only as an increase in temperatures. Kıran said: “In real global examples, we see that any damage made to the environment is increasingly returning to humanity. We definitely have to take precautions against this serious threat”. One of the topics discussed at the congress was the impact of the maritime industry on climate change. Tamer Kıran said: “Turkey's maritime industry, with the importance it attaches to protection of the marine environment, has become a party to all related international agreements and it is putting utmost efforts to fulfil the requirements of these agreements.”

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Reminding the resolution of the International Maritime Organization about use of fuels with sulphur content of maximum 0.5 percent in ships starting from January 1, 2020, Kıran explained the cost of this regulation to ship owners. “Compliance with the new IMO regulations is expected to cost shipowners approximately $300 billion in the next five years. The total cost includes the cost of implementing the changing global need to switch to low-sulphur fuels from January 1, 2020” said Kıran.

“OUR GOAL IS TO LEAVE A BRIGHTER FUTURE TO OUR CHILDREN”

Following Tamer Kıran’s speech, Durmuş Ünüvar, General Manager of Coastal Safety of the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, took the floor. He talked about the activities carried out by the ministry concerning climate change and the environment. Ünüvar said: “Climate change is a very important global issue altering the world's agenda. On one hand, the humanity is dealing with terrorism, wars and unplanned migration at a global scale, and on the other hand it is being dragged to a rapid disappearance due to the devastating environmental consequences of the global climate change. At this point, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that maritime is an industry adopting the global technical and compulsory rules against the threat of climate change. In this scope, it is aimed to reduce ship-sourced carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2050 and to reduce it to zero by the end of this century.”

Ünüvar continued as follows: “We aim to leave a brighter future for our children. We are aware of the importance of protecting the environment for a healthy and happy future. A sustainable planet requires sustainable maritime. I believe that the congress is of big importance in raising awareness especially on this matter today.

“We all now know very well the serious consequences brought by even a global temperature rise of just 1 centigrade degree, mainly caused by industry-induced carbon emissions in the last century. Researches show that the global sea levels will rise up to about three meters unless necessary measures are applied. As a result, it is predicted that hundreds of millions of people as climate refugees will have to emigrate, and demographic, political and economic problems will lead to global wars. As another consequence of climate change, reduction of available clean water resources due to drought will make water wars likely. In the future, clean water resources will have higher priority and strategic importance than oil and other energy resources.”

"SIGN THE PARIS AGREEMENT!"

The 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg has been on a school strike in front of the Parliament to draw attention to the climate crisis every Friday from August 2018. As a response to her call, young people and children of the same age from many countries around the world also took part. As for Turkey, one of the earliest supportive responses came from the 12-year-old climate activist Samra Samer, who lives in Dalyan. At the congress was also the 12-year-old activist Samra Samer. She addressed to elders asking them to leave a clean world for the children. In her speech, she drew attention to the importance of the Paris Agreement and asked the states to sign the agreement as soon as possible. The 12-year old activist said: “We demand signing, ratification and implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement. We want the climate crisis to be a compulsory subject in schools. We want to call it 'climate crisis', not 'climate change'. Suppose that you have a heart attack one day but we call it 'heart change'. That would be weird. Our completely peaceful climate strikes will continue."

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IMEAK Chamber of Shipping Chairman Tamer Kıran and General Manager of Coastal Safety Durmuş Ünüvar were awarded the 'Starfish Environment Award' by Nişantaşı University Rector Prof. Şenay Yalçın and Sea Culture Association President Hakkı Şen. Apart from that, IMEAK Chamber of Shipping Council Chairman Salih Zeki Çakır handed an award to 12-year-old Samra Samer for taking part at the congress and being one of the first rebels from Turkey against the global mass movement with her sensitivity to the climate issue.

JOURNALISTS DISCUSSES THE CLIMATE CHANGE

All aspects of the climate change were discussed throughout the rest of the day. The first session became the place for discussing the effects of media on society in terms of climate awareness and clean seas. The moderator of the session was the Chamber of Shipping Chairman Tamer Kıran and the speakers were Gökhan Abur from NTV, Meliha Okur from Fox TV, Oğuz Haksever, Mahmut Övür from the Sabah newspaper, and Onur Kumbaracıbaşı from Fox TV. Meliha Okur indicated the importance of water underlining that in the near future, Turkey will be a country lacking of water if it does not pay attention to certain issues. Also, water wars could break out soon so water resources should be preserved by the whole country. Another journalist, Oğuzer Haksever gave a comparative presentation on what the media and civil society organizations are doing in the world and what is being done in Turkey, emphasising that Turkey is failing in this area. Gökhan Abur explained the causes of climate change experienced in Turkey and they will become even worse in the coming period.

At the end of the session, the journalists were awarded their Starfish Awards by the Chamber of Shipping Chairman Tamer Kıran, the CEO of Yaf Diesel, Yusuf Kanıcı among our golden sponsors, and Hakan Ozan from the sponsor Jotun.

MEASURES TAKEN IN THE MARITIME INDUSTRY

At the second session, a panel was held on seas, maritime and ships under the threat of climate change. BIMCO and TURMEPA Chairman Şadan Kaptanoğlu took part as the moderator at the panel, which was attended by NGOs and state institutions. The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Directorate General of Maritime and Inland Waters Regulation Coordinator of the Environment Department, Murat Korçak made a presentation on elimination of fossil fuels in maritime. GISBIR Technical Committee Member Prof. Mustafa İnsel also informed the participants about green ship production with new rules in shipbuilding. Afterwards, Harun Şişmanyazıcı, the Director of the Ship Management Committee of the Turkish Shipowners’ Association, gave a speech on the new international sanctions to prevent air pollution caused by ships and their financial implications for ship owners. Another panellist, the Turkish Lloyd Chairman Cem Melikoğlu made his presentation about the role of classification societies in the new climatic setting. Finally, TURMEPA Secretary General Semiha Öztürk drew attention to the importance of zero waste blue.

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MARITIME COMPANIES DISCUSSED THEIR MEASURES

In the third session of the event, the investments and the efforts made by the maritime industry against the new climatic situation were discussed. The session was chaired by Cihan Ergenç, Turkish Shipowners' Association Vice Chairman. Throughout the session, Türk P&I Insurance’s General Manager Ufuk Teker gave information about the impacts of climate change on insurance and reinsurance markets. Also, a presentation was made on climate change and new risks in maritime by Bengi Yüceer, Howden TMEA Marine Insurance Claims Leader of Howden Insurance Brokering, one of the sponsor of the congress. Other speakers Teoman Mustafa Akyol, General Manager of Vento Maritime gave a speech on the global climate change, and Burak Alkoç, General Manager of Owmer Pearl Shipping, on the impacts of climate change on marine, new technologies and their environmental impacts. Lastly, Bülent Temur, President of ITU Alumni Associations Platform, delivered a speech about the importance of seas for human life.

IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON HUMAN HEALTH AND NATURE 

The last session was the ground for discussing the impacts of the climate change on human health and nature. The Rector of Nişantaşı University, Prof. Şenay Yalçın chaired the session and also gave a speech about climate change in relation with energy and environment relations. Several speakers took the ground throughout the session. Dr. Bilge Tutak from Istanbul Technical University Naval and Marine Technology Engineering gave information about the effects of the polar areas on climate and the studies carried out by Turkey on polar sciences. Prof. Şükrü Ersoy from Yıldız Technical University Faculty of Civil engineering, Geotechnics Department talked about the occurrence of climate change. Instructer Barbaros Büyüksağnak from Piri Reis University also talked about the impacts of climate change on the North Pole. Another speaker, Regulations Medical Specialist Prof. Hüseyin Nazlıkul analysed the impacts of climate change on human health. The last speaker was Dr. M. Baki Yokeş, the Founder of the AMBRD Laboratories, giving a speech about the boiling oceans.


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“HEART ATTACKS HAPPEN EVEN AT SMALL AGES”

Hüseyin Nazlıkul made important remarks about the changing nature of diseases as a result of the climate change. He shared some striking facts: “One degree of warming in nature does not only melt the glaciers. It also causes serious health problems. With the climate change, respiratory-related diseases began to emerge. Cancer and rheumatic diseases have increased more than in previous years” he said.

The humanity has damaged the world in the last 50 years more than the world did to itself in 4.5 billion years. The earth is being destroyed. Greenhouse gases, abundance of waste products and non-organic foods cause serious health problems. “Every toxic item thrown into the sea causes great harm to oxygen. Multiple diseases are increasing with climate change. 100 years ago, people used to see a doctor for acute illnesses, either viral or bacterial diseases. But today ninety percent suffer from chronic diseases. As the environment becomes more polluted, diseases increase. Foods deteriorate and diseases increase as our environment gets dirtier.”

He finished his speech by stating that the age likely for heart attacks has fallen to young ages due to the climate change. “Serious cardiovascular diseases are emerging among children and the elder people because of the warming. Heart attacks are increasing and infection is becoming more prevalent.”

“CLIMATE MIGRATION, NOT WAR MIGRATIONS, WILL BREAK OUT”

Prof. Şükrü Ersoy from Yıldız Technical University made very striking statements emphasizing the impending danger. “With the industrial revolution, serious climate change has started. For example, we live in the Middle East so we will feel the climate change seriously. According to surveys, Turkey is among countries to face the threat moderately. But there will be migrations that will affect us, because Middle Eastern countries are situated below Turkey and they will face serious thirst. There will be migration floods caused by the climate crisis, not wars”.

He added that policies should be regulated and amended in consideration of this threat. “The world needs to implement an emergency action plan. It is essential to work on renewable energy and especially on the better use of water. For this, the new generation needs to be educated against climate change. And this education should start from kindergartens. Otherwise, the apocalypse will come from human hands.”

At the end of the big event, Starfish Awards were given to the supporting institutions and organizations as well as the journalists who made news about the issue responsibly. The congress ended with a closing cocktail.

 

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