Publish date 28-04-2023
Our now long experience of life in Turkey leads us to consider this winter season as the hottest and driest of the last twenty years (the 22 degrees reached in Istanbul on January 18 are in the Guinness Book of Records). If the current energy crisis, with the exponential increase in natural gas prices, could make one think of this situation as a happy gift, the projections for the near future can only alarm. Not only that, insufficient rainfall is causing a severe drought across the country. According to the Meteorological Service, in the period between October 1, 2022 and January 3, 2023, rainfall in Turkey decreased by 31% compared to the same period a year earlier.
The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality reported on Jan. 6 that the reservoir of the Alibeyköy Dam (a major source of water in the province) was only at 18.29 percent of its capacity (the lowest in 10 years). Ankara, the capital and second largest city of Turkey (located on a plateau at an altitude of 800 meters and traditionally characterized by cold and snowy winters), recorded a drop in rainfall of 36.4%. In the Aegean city of Izmir, the recorded drop is 41.7%, while in Konya (the "breadbasket" of Turkey), in central Anatolia, rainfall has decreased by as much as 50.3%. But also the Black Sea region, where rainfall, especially in winter, is traditionally continuous and abundant, would have recorded a drop of 17.6%. In early January, officials from the Union of Chambers of Agriculture said that in 60 of the country's 81 provinces, rainfall was insufficient to meet agricultural needs. So far the merciless data. Government policy, apart from the ritual calls for responsible use of water supplies, has certainly intensified the propaganda.
According to the Minister of "Environment, Urban Planning and Climate Change", Murat Kurum, by 2050 Turkey will be an exemplary country in terms of sustainable development and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The front woman of this ambitious program is the first lady herself, Emine Erdoğan, testimonial of the “Sıfır Atık” (Zero Waste) project, which already started in 2017. This plan aims to reduce pollution by aligning waste management with the principles of sustainable development, reaching a recycling rate of 60% of waste by 2030. The plan, which has so far led to the selection of 33.8 million tons of recyclable waste, has also been extended to marine waste since 2019.
Turkey's environmental initiative was welcomed by the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, who signed a "zero waste goodwill declaration" with Emine Erdoğan in September 2022 to expand the project internationally.
The reality, however, looks less rosy. A report released in March 2021 by the International Energy Agency (IEA) on Turkey's energy situation, indicates that, in 2019, 37.2 percent of electricity still came from coal-fired power plants.
The country's roadmap for decarbonisation and achieving energy neutrality by 2050 sounds like science fiction to most. Güven Sak, director of the Economic Policy Research Foundation (TEVAP), believes that Turkey's currently implemented climate action plan will even lead to a 32% increase in the use of hard coal by 2030, as it is not no serious commitments have been made to discontinue the use of existing facilities and to convert energy. At the COP27 in Charm El-Cheikh, Ankara even expressed its intention to increase the emission reduction target for 2030 from 21% to 41%. But the theme is practically absent in the electoral campaign today.
NP February 2023