We rate both Turkey’s NDC, as well as its current policies, “Critically insufficient”—a lack of ambition that, if followed by all other countries, would lead to global warming exceeding 4°C.
Turkey’s ongoing investment in expanding coal power production stands in strong contrast to the need to fully decarbonise the power sector by 2050. In addition to the operating 67 units of coal-fired power plants (emitting 72 MtCO2 yearly), six units are under construction, and more than 73 units are planned. If all of these units were built, the total emissions from coal would increase annual Turkish emissions by at least 40%.
While the stated aim for this coal expansion is improved energy security, water shortages are already casting doubt on the operating efficiency, output and reliability of thermal power plants in this region and these stresses are expected to intensify. The government is also likely to be overestimating future electricity demand by up to 25%.
The ongoing reduction in the costs of renewable energy technology - and storage - mean that reliable power can be obtained cost effectively without resorting to coal-powered generation. Combined with the large co-benefits of reduced air pollution from fossil fuel use, as well as projected economic damages from climate change, this raises questions about the economic wisdom of the present pathway for future economic development in Turkey.
Turkey submitted its Intended National Determined Contribution (INDC) on 30 September 2015, with a greenhouse gas reduction target (including land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF)) of up to 21% below business as usual (BAU) in 2030. As of 9 May 2017 Turkey has not yet ratified the Paris Agreement. Excluding LULUCF emissions, the target in the INDC is equivalent to a 348% increase from 1990 levels, or a 97% increase from 2012 levels.
We rate this target “Critically insufficient”. Turkey’s commitment is not in line with interpretations of a “fair” approach in line with holding warming below2°C, let alone with the Paris Agreement’s stronger 1.5°C limit. This means that if most other countries followed Turkey’sapproach, global warming would exceed 3–4°C.
On 30 September 2015, Turkey submitted its INDC, with the aim to unconditionally reduce GHG emissions including LULUCF in 2030 by 21% below a BAU projection. The INDC submission provides the reference BAU projection (1175 MtCO2e, GWP AR4) and indicates that the target emissions level is 929 MtCO2e (incl. LULUCF, based on GWP from AR4) in 2030.
This BAU projection is reiterated in Turkey’s 6th national communication. Analysis by Bloomberg comes to the conclusion that the Turkish Government may have overestimated the 2030 power demand underlying the official BAU projections by 25% (Bloomberg Energy Finance, 2014). Because the power sector is responsible for the largest share of emissions in Turkey, this means that BAU emissions in 2030 could be considerably lower and that the INDC target of 929MtCO2e could be met without any additional policies.
Since we exclude LULUCF emissions in our rating methodology, we have adjusted the INDC target by subtracting in 2030 a LULUCF emission level of -39 MtCO2e/year. The INDC target in 2030 becomes 968 MtCO2e, excluding LULUCF emissions.
Turkey has revised its inventory GHG emissions in 2015, applying the Global Warming potential (GWP) defined in the IPCC’s 4th Assessment Report. As the CAT methodology is based on the GWP of the 2nd Assessment Report, we converted the INDC values based on the average annual difference between historical CRF data and historical data provided in the 6th national communication. Hence, we find that the equivalent INDC target is 904 MtCO2e by 2030, excluding LULUCF.
 Turkey is a net sink of LULUCF emissions. The 6th national communication contains business-as-usual LULUCF emissions. These were converted into SAR by applying growth rates onto historical CRF data.
We rate Turkey’s INDC target “Critically insufficient”. The “Critically insufficient” rating indicates that Turkey’s climate commitment in 2017 is consistent with a warming of over 4oC: if all countries were to follow Turkey’s approach, warming would exceed 4°C. This means Turkey’s climate commitment is not in line with any interpretation of a “fair” approach to the former 2°C goal, let alone the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit.
If the CAT were to rate Turkey’s projected emissions levels in 2017 under current policies, Turkey’s would also be rated “Critically insufficient.”
For further information about the risks and impacts associated with the temperature levels of each of the categories click here.
With currently implemented policies, Turkey is expected to achieve emissions levels excluding LULUCF of 959-1075 MtCO2e in 2030. The lower estimate is based on both planned and current policies (see Assumption for more detail on calculations and data limitations). According to this analysis, current policies are insufficient to meet Turkey’s INDC and additional policies are needed.
The government expects energy demand in Turkey “to double in the upcoming 10 years” (Republic of Turkey Ministry of Environment and Urbanization, 2016) and plans on meeting parts of this increased demand by building new coal-fired power plants (IPC, 2016). In addition to the 67 coal-fired power units with a capacity of 16.3 GW in use and 6 units with a capacity of 2.6 GW under construction, more than 63 units of coal-fired power plants with a total installed capacity of 44.7 GW are currently under development (either pre-permitted or permitted). Combined, their estimated annual emissions would amount to 205 MtCO2 (End Coal, 2017).
Apart from the impact on emissions, it would add severe stress to already drought-prone regions, increasing the threat to water demand, by adding competition with other water users. Even those plants planned in the vicinity of the coast would still use significant amounts of fresh water for scrubbing air pollutants, thus raising water demand in the region. Using seawater creates a risk of thermal pollution from released cooling water (Greenpeace, 2016).
Turkey’s Tenth Five Year Development Plan covering the years 2014 to 2018 makes reference to the concept of green growth as a means to achieve the sustainable development targets while protecting the environment and increasing the country’s competitiveness (Sixth National Communication, p. 99). The 2016–2018 Medium Term Program outlines the main macroeconomic and fiscal targets and includes actions such as “improving energy efficiency, ... , using natural resources more effectively and making economic gains from waste to challenge climate change.” One of its main objectives is to “reach a competitive energy system which makes use of the local and renewable energy resources at the highest level, foresees use of nuclear technology in electricity production, supports decreasing economy’s energy-intensiveness, mitigates loss and environmental impact of energy and empowers the country’s strategic position in international energy trade” (6th National Communication, p.104).
Turkey is also planning to significantly increase nuclear power production: In 2014, the Turkish government awarded a contract to the Russian company Rosatom to commission 4.8 GW of nuclear power plants by 2020, and technical feasibility studies for a second nuclear power plant of 4.5 GW will be completed by the end of this year(Anadolu Agency, 2017) .
Energy security is also at the core of the objectives of Turkey’s Strategic Plan 2015–2019. One of its goals is to increase the annual electricity generation from domestic coal by 54% by 2019 compared to 2012 levels (Selvitop, 2016). At the same time the share of renewable energy resources in primary energy supply and electricity generation should all be increased.
Turkey’s National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) targets 61GW of renewable capacity by 2023. Planned installed power values for solar increase from 1.8 GW in 2017 to 10 GW in 2019. Turkey also plans on more than doubling its installed capacity of geothermal, and more than tripling its wind capacity. A national wind tender is planned before the end of the summer (Anadolu Agency, 2017a). According to our calculations these renewable targets, as set out in the Strategic Plan and the NREAP would abate 21 MtCO2e compared to the business-as-usual scenario, covering 9% of Turkey’s INDC target.
Turkey’s Energy Efficiency Strategy Document (2012-2023) aims to reduce primary energy intensity by 20% in 2023, compared to the 2008 baseline (Ministry of Environment and Urbanisation, 2013). If implemented, it would help abate 51 MtCO2e by 2023, covering 20% of the reductions required by the INDC target.
Historical emissions in Turkey are obtained for 1990–2014 from the most recent CRF data (2016), converted into the Global Warming Potential of the second IPCC assessment report.
The GHG emissions of the INDC mitigation scenario are converted from AR4 GWP to a SAR GWP by scaling down the values to the average yearly difference that is found difference between historical CRF data and historical data provided in the 6th national communication.
Current policy projections
Turkey’s 6th national communication provides two scenarios: a business-as-usual scenario and a mitigation scenario. In the mitigation scenario ”emissions for 2012–2030 were developed based on mitigation measures from various policy papers and strategic documents”, including thus both current as well as planned policies.
As only a few policies are referenced to a specific mitigation potential, we could not distinguish sufficiently between planned and currently implemented policies. To approximate a range we chose the mitigation scenario as the lower bound, though acknowledging that not all of these measures are likely to be implemented. To derive the upper bound we calculated the renewable energy targets laid out in Turkey’s Strategic Plan 2015–2019, the 2023 targets from the NREAP of Turkey and subtracted the abated emissions as well as the 4.8 GW of nuclear power plants by 2020 from the BAU projection. After 2023 we assume the share of nuclear and renewables in the electricity mix remains constant.
Considerable uncertainty remains, also in view of external analysts’ findings that the Turkish Government may have overestimated the 2030 power demand underlying the official BAU projections by 25% (Bloomberg Energy Finance, 2014).
Anadolu Agency, 2017. Sinop nuke project's site review to be ready by end '17
Anadolu Agency, 2017a. Turkey presents national energy strategy.
CRF (2014). UNFCCC AWG-KP Submissions 2014. Common Reporting Format.
End Coal (2017). Global Coal Plant Tracker.
IPC (2016) Turkey’s Coal Policies related to Climate Change, Economy and Health.
Ministry of Environment and Forestry (2007). First National Communication of Turkey on Climate Change.
Ministry of Environment and Urbanisation (2012). Climate Change Action Plan 2011 – 2023.
Ministry of Environment and Urbanisation (2013). Turkey’s Fifth National Communication Under the UNFCCC.
Republic of Turkey Ministry of Environment and Urbanization (2016). Sixth National Communication.
Selvitop, 2016. Turkey’s Attempts to Increase the Utilization of Domestic Coal
United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) (2012). Non-CO2 Greenhouse Gases: International Emissions and Projections.
UNFCCC (2002) Decision 26/CP.7.
UNFCCC (2012a) Decision 1/CP.16.
UNFCCC (2012b) Decision 2/CP.17.
Turkish Statistical Institute (2015). The Methodological document related to main revision on greenhouse gas emissions inventory
Official Gazette (2007). Energy Efficiency Law No. 5627.
World Energy Council (2013) World Energy Resources: Hydro
Ministry of Energy (2014) D?nya ve Ülkemiz Energji Ve Tabii Kaynaklar Gör?n?m?
IEA (2014) Trends 2014 in Photovoltaic applications
European Commission (2013) Bringing Europe and Third countries closer together through renewable Energies
Bloomberg New Energy Finance (2014) Turkey’s renewable power Alternative power supply scenarios for Turkey
 Commissioning of 4.8 MW of nuclear power in 2020, tapping the full economic potential of hydro by 2030 by adding 62 GW of hydro power (CAT calculation), and 10 GW and 16 GW of solar and wind power by 2030.
 According to World Energy Council, the economic potential of hydro power in Turkey in 2011 was 170 TWh. With an average load factor of 0.31 in Turkey, 62 GW of hydro power need to additionally be installed compared to the 2013 capacities.
 Turkey receives annually 1420 of full load hours from solar energy whereas Germany receives annually 936 hours.
 Not considering grid restrictions.
 Additional coal capacity is included in the BAU after 2020, therefore additional emissions in 2030 are lower compared to the additional emissions in 2020.
 Turkey is a net sink of LULUCF emissions. Turkey LULUCF historical emissions have declined from -51 MtCO2e to -59.8 MtCO2e over the period from 2002 to 2012 with an average value of -55 MtCO2e.
 The difference between emissions in BAU and the INDC by 2030.
 34 GW of hydro, 25 GW of wind and solar, 2 GW of geothermal and biomass capacities.