Policies & action
Turkey’s policies and action are “Critically insufficient”. The “Critically insufficient” rating indicates that Turkey’s policies and action in 2030 reflect minimal to no action and are not at all consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature limit. If all countries were to follow Turkey’s approach, warming would exceed 4°C.
We estimate that Turkey’s emissions will be between 668-791 MtCO2e in 2030 (excluding LULUCF) under current policies and action, including the effect of the pandemic.
Turkey needs to focus on adopting further policies and action to stop its emissions growth and start reducing emissions towards decarbonization.
The policy assessment below is from 30 July 2020. Our current policy emissions projections have change due to harmonization with the latest historic emissions data (2019), updated GDP data for the impact of the pandemics and a slightly revised approach to the construction of these projections in light of these other data changes (see the assumptions section for details).
The National Climate Change Strategy (2010-2023), National Climate Change Action Plan (2011-2023) and the 10th Development Plan (2014-2018) provide the basis for most of Turkey’s climate change policies and measures. The 11th Development Plan, was published in July 2019 and focuses mainly on energy security rather than decarbonisation (Climate Action Tracker, 2019; Government of Turkey, 2019).
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. This provides a strong economic incentive for Turkey to prioritise renewables in securing its energy supply. Turkey has a target of reaching a 38.8% renewable energy share of electricity generation by 2023 and has in place various support programmes for developing renewable energy, including an auction process with competitive prices for the sector (Climate Action Tracker, 2019).
The large potential co-benefits of reduced air pollution from fossil fuel use, combined with the projected economic damages from climate change call into question the current trajectory of economic development in Turkey, with domestic lignite coal still seen as the most important source of substitution for reducing the current dependency on imported natural gas (Climate Action Tracker, 2019).
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). See more details in the “Nuclear” section.
It makes more sense – on environmental, economic, energy security and social grounds – for Turkey’s energy investments to focus more on renewables.
Turkey continues to build new coal-fired power plants in order to meet its rising energy demand (Istanbul Policy Center, 2016); with demand expected to increase by 4% to 6% annually (Erdin & Ozkaya, 2019). The Energy Strategy (2019-2023) plans for an increase the annual electricity generation from domestic goal by 44% by 2023 compared to 2019 (Republic of Turkey Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, 2019).
In 2018, Turkey produced a record 101.5 million tonnes of coal (Anadolu Agency, 2019a). In May 2019 the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources announced forthcoming tenders for coal mines acquisition (Ahval, 2019b).
In 2018, two new power plants in Turkey (Yumus Emre and Çan-2) started operations, while the 1.2 GW Soma Kolin power plant began operating in June 2019. Construction commenced in 2019 on the long-delayed 1.3 GW Hunutlu power plant despite difficulties in obtaining a permit as it is located in a biological preservation zone (Global Coal Plant Tracker | End Coal, 2019; Global Construction Review, 2019).
The government is continuing to press for a large expansion in coal power with close to 32 GW of planned power plants (announced, pre-permitted and permitted) and is only second to China in terms of planned additional coal capacity (Coalswarm, 2020). This stands in strong contrast to the global need to reduce the use of coal in electricity by two-thirds over 2020-2030 and to zero by 2050 (IPCC, 2018). Apart from the impact on emissions, this would add severe stress to already drought-prone regions, increasing the threat to water demand, by adding competition with other water users.
Of particular concern are the plans to build a 5 GW lignite power plant in Konya Karapinar which, if completed, would be one of the largest coal power plants in the world. Sinking water levels would be damaging for agriculture in the region and threaten the livelihood and access to fresh water for 60,000 people (TEMA, 2013). 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. There is also always a risk of thermal pollution when using seawater for cooling (Greenpeace, 2016) and no measures appear to have been put in place to mitigate this.
Strong protests have taken place in Turkey for years as population concerns about impacts on health and ecology rose, leading to two successful cases in 2019 with the Turkish Supreme Court cancelling the 1.3 GW project in Amasra district following the cancelation of the coal-based thermal power plant in Tekirdag (350.org, 2019; Climate Home News, 2019).
Turkey is also embarking on nuclear power plant production. Having no nuclear power at the moment, the Energy and Natural Resources Minister announced that between 2023 and 2030 Turkey will put three nuclear power plants into operation, expected to meet 10% of the country-wide electricity consumption (Daily Sabah, 2017).
The Turkish government awarded a contract to the Russian company Rosatom to commission a 4-unit, 4.8 GW nuclear power plant by 2025 (World Nuclear Association, 2017a). Construction of the first 1200 MW block in Akkuyu - Unit 1 - started in 2018 and is on track to start operation in 2023. While the completion of the foundation for the plant has been recently announced (World Nuclear News, 2019a), the company has also begun working on the plans for Unit 2 and received a construction licence in September 2019 (World Nuclear News, 2019b). The Nuclear Regulatory Authority is currently evaluating the application for construction licence for the third unit (Temizer, 2020).
In May 2013, Turkey signed an agreement with Japan for the second plant, a 4,480 MW nuclear power plant in Sinop, northern Turkey, which is also in an earthquake zone. In December 2018, however, Japan pulled out of the project citing construction delays and rising costs (Daily Sabah, 2019c). Despite ongoing uncertainty regarding the effective implementation of the project (Ahval, 2019a), the government recently reaffirmed its commitment to the project, however, partners and funders are still to be confirmed (Daily Sabah, 2019a).
While nuclear power can reduce the emissions intensity of the Turkish power system, in June 2017 the European Parliament 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).
These concerns were then reiterated in the resolution adopted at the October Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The assembly expressed its “deep concern regarding the construction in an earthquake-prone region and asks the Turkish Government to join the Espoo Convention and to take into account all concerns expressed also by its own citizens” (PACE, 2018). In March 2019, the European Parliament voted to call on the Turkish government to halt construction of the plant (TRT World, 2019).
In addition, the guaranteed rate of 123.5 USD/MWh for 70% of the energy generated in the first nuclear power plant (World Nuclear Association, 2017b) is already above the cost of recent tender outcomes for large-scale PV and wind installations resulting in offers well below existing feed-in tariffs (e.g. USD 34.8 USD/MWh for wind and USD 69.9 / MWh (Climate Action Tracker, 2019) and for many wind and solar energy sources (IRENA, 2017), and is likely to be significantly more expensive than these alternatives in the mid and late 2020s, when the nuclear power plants are scheduled to go online.
Turkey’s 2014 National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) targeted an increase in renewable power capacity from 25.5 GW in 2013 to 61 GW in 2023. Its trajectory set out a gradual rise in renewables excluding hydropower from 13.5% in 2012 to 15.3% in 2015 and 20.5% in 2023 (The Republic of Turkey, 2014). With 6 GW of solar installed capacity recorded in 2019 (Daily Sabah, 2020b), Turkey has already overachieved its target of 5 GW of solar energy by 2023 (Climate Action Tracker, 2019; IRENA, 2019a), while wind power capacity in at the end of 2019 sat at 7.6 GW, together making up 15% of total capacity. In its 11th Development Plan, the government increased its target for the share of renewable energy in total electricity production to 38.8% by 2023 (Government of Turkey, 2019), there are, however, no targets beyond 2023. In the first five months of 2020, generation from renewable energy sources totalled 52% (Şengül, 2020).
In 2016, the government introduced the Renewable Energy Resource Areas (YEKA) strategy, a tender process to procure the production of renewable energy on ‘Renewable Energy Designated Areas,’ (REDAs) which are deemed most suitable for energy generation and the first auctions were awarded for a Solar PV plant in March 2017 and for a Wind onshore plant in August 2017 (Sarı, Saygın, & Lucas, 2019). A third wind onshore auction (1 GW) has been awarded to the German-Turkish consortia (Enercon-Enerjisa) in May 2019 (Daily Sabah, 2019b). Prices of recent auctions show a very competitive renewable energy sector compared to fossil-fuel energy prices and guaranteed nuclear energy prices and installation costs solar photovoltaic are among the lowest in the world in Turkey (Climate Action Tracker, 2019) (IRENA, 2019b).
The YEKA process requires developers to include domestic businesses, establish domestic factories, create employment for the local labour force and invest in R&D. The first YEKA tender was won by the Siemens-Türkerler_Kalyon consortium in 2017. In November 2019, the wind turbine factory established by this consortium started its operations (Daily Sabah, 2019d).
While the 2017 auctioning process was successful, the 1.2 GW off-shore wind auction initially announced for June 2018 has been postponed to 2019 at the earliest. This was followed by the cancellation of the second solar PV YEKA auction, originally planned for January 2019. The next auction round for 1 GW of solar PV projects was initially scheduled for the Spring of 2020, and increasingly looks like it may be postponed to 2021 (Saygin, 2020). Despite the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources having plans for an additional 10 GW of solar PV and 10 GW of wind capacity to be installed in the coming decade (Sarı et al., 2019), if the delays for renewables experienced so far were to continue, we are not confident this timeline will be met. On the positive side, if Turkey were to achieve its plan to increase its installed capacity in wind and solar energy by almost 21 GW by 2024, it would be among the top five countries in Europe’s for the amount of renewable energy (Anadolu Agency, 2019b).
At the same time the 2.8 GW of projects that received preliminary licenses at the end of 2017 remain unclear (WindPower Monthly, 2018). The YEKA Strategy intends to boost the renewable energy development industry through requiring the domestic production of renewable energy technologies and proportional requirements on domestic company ownership and labour force (British Chamber of Commerce Turkey, 2016). The licence auctioned in March 2017 was awarded to the Turkish company Kalyon Enerji, which will start operating Turkey’s first solar manufacturing facility August 2020 (Daily Sabah, 2020d)
In Spring 2020, the Turkish government announced it would soon launch a small-scale renewable YEKA tenders (Daily Sabah, 2020c). These will be for 74 power plants with a size ranging from 10 to 20 MW which will be built in 36 provinces across Turkey. The licences for the 10MW installations will be valid for 30 years with an additional 18-month pre-licence period and the installations will have to be constructed within 18 months from the date the licence is awarded. The pre-licence period for the 15 and 20 MW power plants will be a maximum of 22 months (Daily Sabah, 2020f).
In 2013, the biggest share of Turkey’s total primary energy supply was natural gas with 43.8% (Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, 2015). In 2019, this share dropped to below 20% (Daily Sabah, 2020b).
Due to its strategic location and the increasing demand on Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) worldwide, Turkey 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, 2019e). The country’s LNG imports reached a record high in 2019 (9.4M tonnes, compared to 8.3 tonnes in 2018) (Daily Sabah, 2020e).
However, the CAT cautioned in June 2017 that natural gas has a limited role to play as a bridging fuel in the power sector and runs the risk of overshooting the Paris Agreement long-term temperature goal - or creating stranded assets (Climate Action Tracker, 2017).
Industrial process emissions accounted for 12% of Turkey’s GHG emissions in 2017, in total 66.5 Mt (excl. LULUCF) (Republic of Turkey Ministry of Environment and Urbanization, 2018a, 2019). Turkey aims to use a mix of targets and support schemes to improve energy efficiency in the industry sector. There are four main approaches envisaged in the National Energy Efficiency Plan.
First, the government aims to scale up cogeneration systems for large industrial enterprises with heat needs exceeding 20 MW. Each industry subsector will have to achieve a 10% reduction in energy intensity by 2023. Energy efficiency projects are to be supported by low-interest loans. The government also aims to harmonise the legislation of environment-friendly design and product labelling with EU standards.
Transport emissions account for around 16% of Turkey’s GHG emissions (excl. LULUCF), or almost 85Mt CO2e (Republic of Turkey Ministry of Environment and Urbanization, 2019). The largest share of emissions comes from road transportation which have tripled between 1990 and 2017 (Climate Action Tracker, 2019).
Turkey has a limited number of policies in place to reduce transport emissions. The 2014 National Renewable Energy Action Plan calls for a 10% share of renewable energy in the transport sector by 2023, and the National Climate Change Action Plan (2011–2023) calls for an increase in the share of rail in freight transportation of 15% and 10% in passenger transportation. All new vehicles must comply with EURO 6 standards, but no fuel economy standards are in place. Certain government offices will be required to shift to EVs by 2021 (Finans Haberler, 2018).
The recently published 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). Turkey 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 are lower, their market share is still insignificant, less than 1% in 2018 (Şenzeybek & Mock, 2019). On a positive note, Turkey aims at manufacturing its own electric vehicle (EV) by 2022 or 2023, which, while helping the automotive industry competitiveness internationally, will be an important opportunity to boost EV sales in the country (Daily Sabah, 2020a). Turkey’s Energy and Natural Resources Minister has projected there will be one million EVs on Turkish roads by 2030, but without a clear target set by the government, it is not clear how likely this outcome is (Climate Action Tracker, 2019).
The buildings sector accounts for approximately 30% of Turkish GHG emissions (Turkish Ministry of Environment and Urbanization, 2020). The 2018 Energy Efficiency Action sets out various measures to improve energy efficiency, and states that in 2019 a strategy for near zero-energy buildings will be developed. Published in September 2019, the Urban Transformation Plan aims at replacing old buildings in cities with sustainable living spaces (Climate Action Tracker, 2019). Energy efficiency measures are supported by the 11th Development Plan published in July 2019 through, for example, the implementation of energy efficiency in public buildings, promoting the renovation of existing buildings and a certification system for green buildings (Climate Action Tracker, 2019; Government of Turkey, 2019). In 2020, the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization presented a National Green Certification System that that can be voluntarily used as of 2021. The system will allow the Ministry to have an overview of all “green” buildings within the country (Turkish Ministry of Environment and Urbanization, 2020).
During the UN SG Climate Summit, Turkey committed to the newly launched initiative on Zero Carbon Buildings for All, with a target to develop and implement policies to drive the decarbonisation of all new buildings by 2030 and all existing buildings by 2050. This stands in contrast with the need to reach fossil free and near zero-energy new buildings by 2020 to be 1.5°C pathway consistent (Climate Action Tracker, 2019; Zero Energy Buildings for All, 2019).
According to the 2019 National Inventory Report, Agriculture emissions in 2017 accounted for 12% of Turkey’s GHG emissions (excl. LULUCF), 62.5Mt CO2e in total (Republic of Turkey Ministry of Environment and Urbanization, 2019). Turkey has an ambitious target for increasing agricultural productivity by 2023, aiming to be in the top five producers globally. This implies a significant future increase in GHG emissions from this sector. Currently, agricultural activities are the primary contributors of CH4 and N2O, with 55.5% of CH4 emissions and 77.6% of N2O emissions originating from agricultural activities (Republic of Turkey Ministry of Environment and Urbanization, 2018a). Although Turkey considers the agriculture sector in its National Climate Change Action Plan (2011-2023), it does not have a concrete target in place to reduce GHG emissions.
The LULUCF sector in Turkey is a net sink which has been increasing since 2008 and Turkey aims to increase its forest land to cover 30% of the country by 2023 (Republic of Turkey Ministry of Environment and Urbanization, 2018b), which has been reiterated in the recently published 11th development plan (Government of Turkey, 2019). In 2019, the country set the world record for most trees planted in an hour (UNCCD, 2019).
Over 90% of the waste generated in Turkey is sent to landfills (OECD, 2019). The European Environment Agency notes that an extraordinary effort is required by the government, local authorities and the private sector to ensure proper implementation of waste regulation (Bakas & Milios, 2013). In its third biennial report Turkey notes that the greatest mitigation is expected in the waste sector, through policies such as rehabilitation of unmanaged waste sites and recovery of methane gas from landfill gas (Republic of Turkey Ministry of Environment and Urbanization, 2018b).
There is an increasing effort on installing zero waste processes at the municipal level, particularly involving public buildings, shopping malls and hospitals. Public institutions are expected to have zero waste processes in place by June 2020 and Municipalities with population of more than 250.000 by December 2020. The Zero Waste project aims to reduce volume of non-recyclable waste. According to the latest National Development Plan, Turkey aims to recycle 35% of its municipal waste by 2023 (Government of Turkey, 2019; Ministry of Environment and Urbanization of Turkey, 2019).