Turkey goes even further in the fight against climate change

Turkey has set itself a target that goes beyond the reduction required as a developing country, announcing to the world its goal of being carbon neutral by 2053. The country has great potential at this point. It has tripled its only installed capacity of renewable energy in the last 20 years, while more than half of its total installed capacity, 53% proportionally, is made up of renewable resources. With this value, the country is a step ahead of the United Kingdom, the 12th in the world and the fifth in Europe. In geothermal energy, Turkey has the fourth largest installed capacity in the world. It ranks second in Europe and ninth globally in hydroelectric power plants (HPP)

Just last year, as the coronavirus pandemic raged intensely, the world almost came to a standstill; however, it was a time when Turkey’s investments in renewable energy were increasing significantly. In 2020, the country commissioned more than 7,000 megawatts of additional installed capacity. It obtained 98% of this additional energy from environmentally and climate-friendly renewable resources. It got the remaining 2% from cogeneration, which is a good application of efficiency. In the same year, it ranked second in the world, after China, for the investments it made in hydroelectric power plants.

All these developments point to the existence of great potential by 2053. The largest solar power plant investment in the world, which was also built on a single plot, is one of the good examples of the determination of Turkey in this direction.

Thanks to the production of electricity from renewable sources, the country has avoided the generation of emissions corresponding to at least 7% of national greenhouse gas emissions on an annual basis. However, Ankara’s goal is bigger. Therefore, in the coming period, the sun will be brighter and the wind will blow stronger.

Carbon pricing, which is one of the most effective ways to reduce greenhouse gases, is also one of the issues the government is working on and giving priority to. It has started establishing the infrastructure for the Emissions Trading System, which rewards facilities that invest in clean generation technologies where climate-friendly investments will be supported, and will be implemented in the near future.

Turkey is increasing resource efficiency with its clean production, environmental label and the Zero Waste project it has launched in the industry, and it is working on the transition to the circular economy model, which makes its growth independent from the source. In this regard, Turkey will soon complete and implement a Circular Economy Action Plan. With the Zero Waste Project, the country has become one of the few countries in the world to have implemented environmental sensitivity and life cycle phenomena.

Turkey will prevent the generation of waste by recycling its waste instead of burying it. In the past three years alone, it has increased its recovery rate by nine points as part of its zero waste vision. With the support of applications such as the deposit, it aims to increase this value to 60% in 2035 and to end waste storage after 2050.

He is developing mechanisms that will use his water more efficiently, of which he values ​​every drop. As well as the construction of underground dams that prevent evaporation, as well as smart irrigation techniques. By purifying the wastewater generated, Turkey protects its sea and other receiving environments, which provide one in two breaths, and the country extends the life of its natural water resources by reusing treated wastewater.

Another problem that concerns the government is the buildings. With smart city applications, Ankara ensures that resources are used more efficiently and appropriately. By leading the way in energy efficiency, waste management, greywater and rainwater harvesting, and self-generating rooftop buildings, Turkey is saving space both in the environmentally friendly processing and energy production. So that its cities can breathe, the government is building Nation Gardens in each province, and giving a lifeline to biological diversity with ecological corridors.

One of the main sources of emissions is the transport sector. With the motto “zero emissions, zero pollution”, Turkey has set a target of 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) of cycle paths and 3,000 kilometers of walking paths, and it is taking firm steps to achieve this goal. . In 2020, which fell into the shadow of the pandemic when personal transport was hugely popular, Turkey put the world’s longest single-lane cycle path to work for its nation and guest nations in the southern province of Hatay. The country has created the legal infrastructure for the safe use of electric scooters in traffic, which is an environment-friendly, climate-friendly and air-friendly vehicle, and is also symbolized by individual transport and is increasing day by day.

Another area to which the government attaches importance is that of carbon sinks. These are important areas where we need to increase the amount as well as protect the existing one. Because they perform an important function in balancing carbon emissions. With this idea, the country became one of the few countries to have increased its forest wealth, and it increased its forest assets equivalent to the size of Wales, with over 5.1 billion new saplings it has planted over the past 20 years. When we take the last five-year period as a base in terms of reforestation activities, Turkey ranks first in Europe and sixth in the world. The country has declared November 11 “National Reforestation Day”.

Future potential

We need every living creature to maintain the delicate balance that exists in our world. In this regard, it is very important to protect the diversity and sustainability of the species. Turkey, which is the transition point of the three continents of Asia, Europe and Africa, has a great wealth of biodiversity. Damage to biodiversity leads to all kinds of environmental and climatic disasters. Turkey conducts scientific research to protect its biological diversity.

By increasing the size of its protected area to 11%, the country saved all its living and non-living assets, as well as rivers, from the danger of pollution and extinction. In the past two years alone, it has increased the number of protected areas by taking under protection an area of ​​10,000 square kilometers, seven times that of London and twice that of Istanbul. Declare the Sea of ​​Marmara and the Princes’ Islands region, with an area of ​​11,000 square kilometers and a coastline of seven cities, as a “special environmental protection zone” under the action plan for the protection of the Sea of ​​Marmara that the government put in place after the sea problems in Marmara, is a sign of its sincerity and determination.

This environment, this nature and this planet belong to all of us. It’s not just ours, it’s the common living space of all species. The health of all humans, plants and animals interacts with each other in the environment. The healthier our nature, the healthier we will be. The healthier our planet is, the healthier the species will be. This is why the government supports the only sanitary phenomenon.

We all have a responsibility to protect the natural balance of the environment and to prevent the formation of pollution. Therefore, we need an ecocentric (environmentally oriented) thinking, instead of an egocentric (self-centered) approach. We need to accelerate the transition from a throwaway culture to circular economy models that envision a more efficient and effective use of resources. Because we know that if the current consumption pattern continues, the temperature increase should be between three and six degrees by the end of the century, which means a total disaster. As a result, the disasters we are currently experiencing, which are increasing in number and effects, are only the results of a temperature increase of 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.16 degrees Fahrenheit).

Turkey did not pollute this world. However, this will not allow it to remain dirty. As Hon. Mevlana Jalaladdin Rumi said, “we need people who lead by example, not someone who gives advice”. We want to act with such awareness.

Turkey, which has never been silent on global issues throughout history, is ready to fulfill its duties within its means and capabilities. It will do its best to limit the temperature rise observed on our planet to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The country has a carbon neutrality target of 2053. Undoubtedly, it will need a new and powerful roadmap to achieve this goal. In this regard, the Climate Council which brings together all relevant parties from academia, industry, transport, agriculture, public institutions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) is a good example.

Turkey has great potential in the fight against climate change. In this vein, the country is launching the green development revolution. As a first step, it will update its Nationally Determined Contribution statement.

Sharon P. Juarez