Turkey leading country in region with renewable energy use, Erdogan says

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan highlighted the importance of international cooperation in dealing with climate change and environmental issues as he addressed a U.N. climate summit in New York.

"Climate change is a global issue whose solutions require regional, international cooperation," Erdoğan said, as he noted that individuals are obliged to protect and hand the planet to the next generation the way they received it.

The president explained Turkey's efforts and contribution to deal with climate-related issues. In this regard, the country is co-leading the Infrastructure, Cities and Location Action (ICLA) working group with the support of U.N. Habitat.

"Turkey is well aware that fighting climate change requires taking local action," Erdoğan said, adding that the country has significantly increased the use of natural gas by replacing coal in 81 provinces, while over 30% of its power supply comes from renewable resources and aims to increase this to 39% by 2023.

To reduce carbon emissions and resolve the issue of traffic congestion, Turkey is building new subway lines and aims to increase the railway line's cargo capacity from 5% to 10%, passenger capacity from 1% to 4%.

The country also planted over 4 billion trees in the past 17 years and aims to plant 11 million more trees on Nov. 11 alone and has reduced plastic bag consumption by 75% in line with environmental goals.

"The Zero Waste Project initiated by my wife has been embraced in all of our cities and institutions," the president said, adding that the project aims to increase recycling, reduce waste and boost savings for a greener environment.

Turkey, late to the recycling trend and efficient waste management except in big cities, strives to end landfills whose numbers have considerably decreased in recent years. Turkey has started to prioritize waste management, over concerns of rising environmental damage, with municipalities responsible for garbage collection upgrading their waste management systems. The country also managed to recycle more than half of the plastic bottles in the market in 2017. Turkey also seeks to spread compost-making equipment used in businesses for converting food waste to compost for home use.

Currently, more than 18,750 public institutions are included in the zero waste project, separating their waste at its source.

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