Policies & action
We rate Türkiye’s current policies and action as “Critically insufficient” when compared to its fair share contribution as this metric is more favourable than the modelled domestic pathways. The “Critically insufficient” rating indicates that Türkiye’s policies and action in 2030 reflect minimal to no action and are not at all consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C. If all countries were to follow Türkiye’s approach, warming would exceed 4°C.
The CAT estimates that Türkiye’s emissions will be between 691-780 MtCO2e in 2030 (excluding LULUCF) under current policies and action, including the effect of the pandemic. Türkiye is on track to achieve its updated NDC target based on our emissions estimate for 2030 under current policies. Türkiye's updated NDC target (excluding LULUCF) falls slightly above the median of this range. The updated NDC also includes an emissions peak year of 2038 which is way too late (Republic of Türkiye, 2023).
Türkiye needs to focus on adopting further policies and action to stop its emissions growth and start reducing emissions towards decarbonisation.
Over the last two decades, Türkiye’s energy demand has significantly increased, driven by rapid urbanisation, and economic and population growth (Climate Action Tracker, 2019). As a result, Türkiye has become heavily dependent on oil, coal, and fossil gas imports (Climate Action Tracker, 2019). Türkiye’s continued reliance on fossil fuel imports is not only a burden on the economy, but also leaves the country vulnerable to volatile commodity markets exacerbated by the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine and the depreciation of the Turkish lira (Ugurtas, 2022).
Rather than investing further in domestic lignite coal and fossil gas production to reduce its dependency on imported fossil fuels, Türkiye should focus on further increasing its renewable energy generation to avoid technology lock-in and improve energy security. This would also be in line with Türkiye’s commitment to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2053.
The energy intensity of Türkiye’s economy is low, and it has been decreasing at roughly the same pace as the rest of the G20 (Climate Transparency, 2022). However, the country has not managed to decouple energy consumption from population growth and only slightly from economic growth (IEA, 2021a). The National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NEEAP) 2017-2023, Türkiye's main policy document for energy efficiency, aims to reduce Turkey’s primary energy consumption by 14% from a business-as-usual scenario by 2023 (or cumulative energy saving of 23.9m tonnes of oil equivalent) across several sectors (Republic of Turkey Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, 2018). Based on the latest progress report, it seems unlikely that Türkiye will achieve this goal (Republic of Turkey Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, 2020). Türkiye will need to update this NEEAP along with a number of other climate policies as most of them end in 2023.
In December 2022, Türkiye published its National Energy Plan for 2020-2035 which the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources asserts is in line with Türkiye’s 2053 net zero emissions target. Though the plan does envision an increase in the share of renewable energy in primary energy consumption from 16.7% in 2020 to 23.7% in 2035, it does not include a plan to exit coal or fossil gas (Robins, 2023; Turkish Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, 2022). Instead, Türkiye has ambitions to become a fossil gas hub (Robins, 2023). If Türkiye is serious about its net zero emissions target then it will need to have a plan to phase out of fossil fuels.
The CAT estimates that Türkiye’s emissions will be between 691-780 MtCO2e in 2030 (excluding LULUCF) under current policies and action, including the effect of the pandemic. Türkiye's updated NDC target (excluding LULUCF) falls slightly above the median of this range. Neither the updated NDC target nor the emissions peak year of 2038, which is way too late, demonstrate a commitment by Türkiye to seriously reduce its emissions in line with limiting warming to 1.5°C (Republic of Türkiye, 2023).
In Glasgow, a number of sectoral initiatives were launched to accelerate climate action. At most, these initiatives may close the 2030 emissions gap by around 9% - or 2.2 GtCO2e, though assessing what is new and what is already covered by existing NDC targets is challenging.
For methane, signatories agreed to cut emissions in all sectors by 30% globally over the next decade. The coal exit initiative seeks to transition away from unabated coal power by the 2030s or 2040s and to cease building new coal plants. Signatories of the 100% EVs declaration agreed that 100% of new car and van sales in 2040 should be electric vehicles, 2035 for leading markets. On forests, leaders agreed “to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030”. The Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance (BOGA) seeks to facilitate a managed phase out of oil and gas production.
NDCs should be updated to include these sectoral initiatives, if they aren’t already covered by existing NDC targets. As with all targets, implementation of the necessary policies and measures is critical to ensuring that these sectoral objectives are actually achieved.
|TÜRKIYE||Signed?||Included in NDC?||Taking action to achieve?|
|Electric vehicles||Yes||No||Not clear|
|Forestry||Yes||Yes – new update in 2023||Not clear|
|Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance||No||N/A||N/A|
- Methane pledge: Türkiye has not signed the global methane pledge. Methane is a minor source of emissions for Türkiye and comes predominantly from agriculture and waste (Republic of Turkey Ministry of Environment and Urbanization, 2018a).
- Coal exit: Türkiye has not adopted the coal exit. Türkiye does not plan to phase out coal, instead it plans to significantly expand its coal power capacity (Pitel & Kıraç, 2022).
- 100% EVs: Türkiye adopted the declaration on accelerating the transition to 100% zero emission cars and vans at COP26. It is not included in the updated NDC and it is unclear whether Türkiye is implementing targeted policies to achieve this goal. In a similar vein, Türkiye signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with other countries, including some G20 members, to decrease the emissions from medium and heavy duty vehicles (Global Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Zero-Emission Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles, 2021). Türkiye plans to start producing EVs domestically in 2023 (Ozbek, 2022).
- Forestry: Türkiye signed the forestry pledge at COP26. The updated NDC does not specifically mention the declaration, however the main mitigation policies in the LULUCF section do aim to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030.
- Beyond oil and gas: Türkiye is not a member in the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance. To meet its rising energy demand, Türkiye is heavily dependent on oil (93% of total crude oil supply) and gas imports (99% of total fossil gas supply) (IEA, 2022).
Coal plays a significant role in Türkiye’s energy supply and is responsible for a significant proportion of Türkiye’s GHG emissions. In 2020, it was the second-largest primary energy source in Türkiye, representing 27% of total primary energy supply (TPES), just behind oil (29%) and ahead of fossil gas (27%) (IEA, 2022).
In an attempt to reduce its dependency on imported fossil fuels, in particular fossil gas from Russia, Türkiye has supported the production of domestic lignite coal and increased coal-fired generation. Yet, as domestic production of lignite coal has fluctuated and due to its low calorific value compared to the thermal coal which Türkiye imports, Türkiye’s coal-fired power plants have grown reliant on imported coal (IEA, 2021a). For example, the long-delayed 1.32 GW Hunutlu power plant, whose first generation unit came online in June 2022, uses coal exclusively imported from Russia due to the low costs (Pitel & Kıraç, 2022). However, cheap Russian coal can only alleviate energy security concerns in the near term.
Although the Turkish government continues to build new coal-fired power plants to meet Türkiye’s rising energy demands, its remaining coal pipeline of close to 10 GW of planned power plants (announced, pre-permitted and permitted) seems increasingly less viable due to mounting financial risks and vulnerabilities, and decreasing investment interest in coal power (Coalswarm, 2022; Pitel & Kıraç, 2022; Senlen et al., 2022). China’s commitment to end overseas coal finance has already resulted in the cancellation of Türkiye’s HEMA Amasra Units 1 and 2 with a capacity of 1.32 GW (Senlen et al., 2022). Not only are options for securing international capital for coal power decreasing, but some Turkish private banks have also stopped providing loans for new coal projects (350 Turkiye, 2022).
Rather than continuing to promote domestic coal production and the construction of coal-fired power plants, Türkiye should focus on further increasing its renewable energy generation to get emissions onto a 1.5°C compatible pathway, avoid technology lock-in, and improve energy security. For the power sector to be 1.5°C compatible, Türkiye needs to phase out coal by 2030 and fully decarbonise its electricity generation by mid-century (Climate Action Tracker, 2019).
The Turkish government should also develop a coal phase-out plan for the power sector, which NGOs have shown is feasible by 2030, if it is serious about its commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2053 (APLUS Energy et al., 2021). Türkiye’s newly unveiled National Energy Plan until 2035 does not put the country on track for an exit from coal, instead it increases installed coal capacity by 4 GW (Daily Sabah, 2023; Turkish Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, 2022).
Historically, Türkiye has been heavily reliant on fossil gas imports, specifically from Russia, because domestic gas production covers about 1% of total gas demand (IEA, 2021a). In 2013, the largest share of Türkiye’s total primary energy supply was fossil gas with 43.8% (Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, 2015). By 2020, this share had dropped to 26.9% (IEA, 2022).
Not only has Türkiye diversified its energy supply to include larger shares of other energy sources, it has also diversified its gas supply sources and associated infrastructure. In 2000, Russia supplied over 50% of Türkiye’s fossil gas needs but by 2019 Russia provided only 34% (IEA, 2021a). In 2021, 45% of the gas used in Turkey came from Russia and the rest from Iran and Azerbaijan (Daily Sabah, 2022b). The issue of energy security when so heavily reliant on Russian gas is demonstrated by the fact that at the beginning of 2022 Türkiye was forced to impose electricity cuts on industry due to problems with Russian gas supplies (Pitel & Kıraç, 2022).
To reduce its dependence on fossil gas imports and increase its energy security, Türkiye has also promoted domestic gas exploration and production. In April 2020, Türkiye announced the discovery of the Sakarya gas field in the Black Sea which is its largest fossil gas discovery to date (Daily Sabah, 2022b; IEA, 2021a). The field is expected to start production in the first quarter of 2023 (Daily Sabah, 2022b).
Due to its strategic location, and the increasing demand on Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) worldwide, Türkiye aims to become a gas trading hub by developing its storage and regasification capacities. Its first floating storage and regasification units (FSRU) began operating in 2018 and a second FSRU was commissioned in January 2018 (Daily Sabah, 2019b). The country’s LNG imports reached a record high in 2019 (9.4M tonnes, compared to 8.3M tonnes in 2018) (Daily Sabah, 2020).
As the current global fossil gas infrastructure already supplies the volumes required, any addition is at risk of becoming a stranded asset (Climate Action Tracker, 2022).
Türkiye is also embarking on nuclear power plant production in an effort to reduce dependency on imported energy resource, particularly fossil gas.
Though Türkiye does not currently have any nuclear power, the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant is on track to start operation in 2023 with the launch of the construction of its fourth and last reactor in July 2022 (Daily Sabah, 2022c). Russia’s state nuclear energy company, Rosatom, is building the nuclear power plant with a total installed capacity of 4.8 GW, aimed at meeting 10% of Türkiye’s electricity demand once completed (Daily Sabah, 2022c; Reuters, 2022). This is the largest energy project implemented by Türkiye and Russia at an estimated cost of USD 20bn (Daily Sabah, 2022c).
A second nuclear power plant in Sinop, in northern Türkiye, has been in the works since 2013 when Türkiye signed an agreement with Japan (Daily Sabah, 2019a). However, in 2020 the partnership between Japan and Türkiye to build the 4.5 GW nuclear power plant fell apart (Hürriyet Daily News, 2020). The Ministry of Environment and Urbanisation has given a positive environmental impact assessment (EIA) to the Sinop project, though the government is still seeking project partners (IEA, 2021a).
President Erdoğan said that Türkiye aims to take steps to move forward a second and third nuclear plant as soon as possible, which could explain how Türkiye plans, in its newly released National Energy Plan, to increase its installed nuclear capacity from 0 GW in 2020 to 7.2 GW in 2035 (Daily Sabah, 2022c; Turkish Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, 2022).
While nuclear power can reduce the emissions intensity of the Turkish power system, the European Parliament, in June 2017 called on the Turkish government to halt its plans for the construction of the Akkuyu nuclear plant, pointing to the risks of severe earthquakes in that region (European Parliament, 2017). This is an issue that has also been raised by environmental organisations (Environmental Justice Atlas, 2017; Reuters, 2011). The uncertainties and risks around nuclear construction make the technology unreliable in terms of planning the necessary power system decarbonisation, which needs to happen globally by 2050 (IPCC, 2018).
Over the last decade, growth in Türkiye’s renewable energy capacity has been significant, with Türkiye ranking as the country with the fifth highest level of new renewable capacity additions in Europe in 2019 (IEA, 2021b). However, this increased capacity falls short of covering the rise in Türkiye’s energy demand (Ugurtas, 2022).
The country has specifically seen growth in solar, wind and geothermal energy, because of plentiful resources and government policies (IEA, 2021a). In 2019, Türkiye exceeded its target of 38.8% renewable energy share of electricity generation by 2023 outlined in its 11th Development Plan (Alimova, 2021; Government of Turkey, 2019). But by 2021, this share had dropped to 35%, reflecting a lack of policy support for renewable energy in Türkiye (Climate Transparency, 2022).
Published in December 2022, Türkiye's National Energy Plan for 2035 takes an important step in increasing its renewable energy targets. Türkiye’s goal is to increase installed solar power capacity from 6.7 GW in 2020 to 52.9 GW by 2035 (Turkish Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, 2022). Installed wind power capacity is also expected to more than triple to 29.6 GW by 2035. Diversifying its renewable energy sources is crucial for Türkiye, given that it currently relies heavily on hydropower, the potential of which could be constrained in the future due to the reoccurring droughts the country has faced (Maguire, 2023).
In 2016, the government introduced the Renewable Energy Resource Areas (YEKA) strategy, a tender process to procure the production of large-scale renewable energy on ‘Renewable Energy Designated Areas,’ (REDAs) which are deemed most suitable for power generation (IEA, 2021a). The YEKA auctions have been successful at driving investment in 7.05 GW of renewables (Cagatay, 2022), and since its inception the government has adjusted the terms of the auctions to ensure investor interest (Başgül, 2022).
Türkiye also offers feed-in tariffs for renewable power plants, including wind, solar, biomass, hydro and geothermal under the Renewable Energy Support Mechanism (YEKDEM) (IEA, 2021a). In 2021, the USD-based YEKDEM scheme came to an end and the Turkish government replaced it with TRY-based YEKDEM for renewable power plants commissioned after 30 June 2021 (Başgül, 2022; Enerdata, 2021). This new YEKDEM scheme has not been so successful at contributing to the installation of new renewable capacities mainly due to the depreciation of the lira (Başgül, 2022).
Despite these various support programmes that Türkiye has in place to develop renewable energy, investment in renewable energy remain minuscule compared to the country’s potential renewable energy resources. In the last five years, Türkiye's renewable capacity grew by 50%, but this falls short of covering the country’s rise in energy demand since 2010 (Ugurtas, 2022).
The ongoing reduction in the costs of renewable energy technology and storage means that reliable power can be obtained cost-effectively without resorting to coal-powered generation. In fact, the stark rise in global hard coal prices combined with the fall in costs of building wind and solar power plants has rendered it more economically viable to build a new wind or solar park than run even the most efficient coal-fired power plant with imported coal in Türkiye (Alparslan, 2021).
Transport emissions account for around 15% of Türkiye’s GHG emissions (excl. LULUCF), or about 80 MtCO2e (Republic of Türkiye, 2022b). The largest share of emissions comes from road transportation which have more than tripled between 1990 and 2020 (Republic of Türkiye, 2022b).
Türkiye has a limited number of policies in place to reduce transport emissions. The 11th Development Plan provides a target of 10% of freight to be transported by rail by 2023 and an increase in modal share of rail in passenger transport to 3.8% (Government of Turkey, 2019). Türkiye has a high vehicle registration tax compared to European countries, and these increase with engine size, incentivizing the purchase of smaller vehicles. Although taxes on electric vehicles (EVs) are lower, their market share is still insignificant, less than 1% in 2020 (Leah, 2022).
On a positive note, Türkiye plans to manufacture its own EVs, with sales of the first model set to begin towards the end of 2023 (Ozbek, 2022). This will help the Turkish automotive industry’s international competitiveness and be an important opportunity to boost EV sales domestically (Ozbek, 2022). Türkiye’s Energy and Natural Resources Minister anticipates that there will be one million EVs on Turkish roads by 2030, but without a clear target set by the government, it is unclear how likely this outcome is (Temizer, 2022).
Türkiye has a small LULUCF sink of 57 MtCO2e in 2020 while Türkiye’s total emissions (incl. LULUCF) were 467 MtCO2e. The sink is diminishing, due in a large part to the government’s increase in wood production in recent years (Climate Transparency, 2022). Türkiye has also suffered from increasingly severe wildfires in recent years (Global Forest Watch, 2023).
Türkiye is on track to meet its 2023 target of increasing its forest land to cover 30% (Government of Turkey, 2019; Republic of Turkey Ministry of Environment and Urbanization, 2018b). In 2021, Türkiye’s forests covered 29% of the country (Daily Sabah, 2021).