Last year, a decision from the government to introduce a fee for plastic bags, rather than banning them, raised a lot of attention. It was claimed the public debate around the cost of the bags impacted the results of the last year’s municipal elections. Some even argued the move was the “final straw”. But how much did last year’s “plastic bag tax” bring into state coffers?
At 25 cents for each nylon bag, 15 cents were deposited into the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning. So during the first nine months of the year, 188 million lira were collected by the Ministry.
But while the Ministry has earned vast amounts of money, so have companies and the tax office. Out of every 25 cent, 10 cents were distribute among companies and the Treasury. The amount totaled 125 million lira. In other words, citizens paid 313 million lira during those nine months.
I expect the public cost to reach 420 million lira by the end of the year.
According to data from the Ministry, shopping bag usage has gone down to 22 percent. That means that out of 5 bags, 4 were not used. Needless to say, that is a great success. Yet this cannot hailed a success on the part of the Ministry, rather it is a reaction to the actions of a Ministry that implements ambiguous policies and of a state bent on robbing its citizens.
Still, one of five bags means 1.25 billion bags. So for nine months, 1.25 billion bags were bought from people who were willing to pay 25 cents for a single bag.
1.25 billion bags means 15 bags per person. 20 bags per year – which is too high. None of these are recycled.
Moreover,when the state attempted to cash in on shopping bags instead of banning them, many people turned to grocery bags. Exact figures are not available. All we know is that we now consume as much grocery bags as we did shopping bags in the past. Today, even if less shopping bags can be seen, there are more grocery bags.
With the help of our people who don’t want to spend money on shopping bags, approximately 75 thousand tons of plastic bags were saved from being wasted. But what about other plastic packaging material? Looking at last year’s data, one can establish that two million tons of plastic packaging material were buried within the first nine months of this year.
The Ministry says the collected money is used to source municipalities and their environmental efforts. Yet the 188 million lira that have been collected amounts to very little for the environment. The amount spent by the Bursa Metropolitan Municipality for road maintenance and asphalt is 212.6 million. That means the amount the Ministry set aside for environment is less than what Bursa spent on roads and asphalt.
Our government has forged an industry worth millions of lira from tiny shopping bags. There prevails a group of people that opposes and is large enough to impact election results.
In 2010, a consumer organization of which I am a member, led a campaign entitled “İklim İçin Yeşil File” (Green Nets for Climate) to force municipalities to ban plastic bags.
Let’s appeal to these municipalities again and have plastic bags banned! Let’s get rid of the 25 cent tax and bags altogether.
Today, Ankara is not Wuhan. Wuhan is a good example compared to our capital city. Today, Ankara is a construction site. Ankara residents have to remind the city again that they do not want a municipal administration that works for contractors — alongside a presidential system that works for contractors.
This good news about the discovery of natural gas reserves in the Black Sea at the same time means a disaster for the environment. Turkey is a country in which environmental protection standards are very low, and it cannot control even this. This project will be the end of the Black Sea.
As Turkish politics have been reduced to a binary dichotomy between the government bloc and the opposition, İYİ Party plays a somewhat unifying and dampening effect in that regard. But while the government is out of touch with the people, the opposition is not tuned in with it either.
In the past four months, none of our municipalities prepared the infrastructure for washing our hands. They were not able to meet the sidewalk conditions of 1.5 meters width for the social distancing of pedestrians. Almost all of our 1,397 municipalities have failed according to these criteria, including opposition ones.
Even though there are now 163,000 cases detected in Turkey and even more cases that are undetected, the malls are opening. At what cost and for whose sake they are opening? It is quite apparent that they are not opening for our sake; the data is clear. When you review the equation from the point of view of the novel coronavirus, then you have five huge reasons not to step inside these malls.
In Turkey, the pandemic seems to have also opened asphalt season for some local administrations. Municipalities regarded this period as a huge opportunity to pave asphalt.
The Energy Ministry’s 2019-2023 Strategic Plan tells us a lot about the government's intentions. It is obviously a plan that still insists on coal and hydroelectric power policies, and that has solar and wind energy only as an accessory. The climate crisis is not even mentioned.
The first coronavirus month in Turkey will be recorded in history as the month of opportunism, the month of abusing a pandemic. It kept some of its people at home and others at mines and factories, turning the country into a labor camp. Only the local administrations were left, but there were policies to curb their powers as well.
As a host to 85 percent of all international travels, Istanbul has become an attraction center for coronavirus. And as a host to 38 percent of Turkey’s domestic travels, Istanbul spread the virus to the rest of the country.
The Turkish government has not taken steps related to the seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak. They actually took steps in the opposite direction asking people to do their own homework and resisting a total lockdown in the country. Meanwhile, the opposition self-quarantined itself politically.
Both the stage that the capitalism has reached globally and Turkey’s implementation of it, cannot be neglected while discussing the underlying factors which tie the climate crisis and the COVID-19 outbreak to each other.
In 2019, the number of issues broke the record with 935 extreme meteorological issues recorded in Turkey. That's 9 times the overall number recorded for the second half of the 20th century. Last year, floods occurred in cities including Ordu, Düzce, Trabzon, Antalya and Mersin that cost the lives of many people.
While Russia needs to sell its energy to Turkey, the US must stay within the Middle East to get its oil. That is why they are both seeking Turkey on their side.At the moment, Turkey is paying for the Syrian war with its loved ones and poverty. It is only by achieving peace with its neighbors that we can attain a win-win situation.
Thanks to a Special Communication Tax that was introduced after the 1999 earthquake, some 67.5 billion Turkish Liras have been collected up to now for earthquake relief. But rather than on earthquake preparedness, the money was largely spent on construction projects.
Kanal Istanbul is a project based on unjust profit-earning that is well-known first to Turkish companies, followed by Arab, European, and even Pakistani capital owners. But we still don’t know the full truth of what is going on with the project. Good that we do not know, because if we did, the Kanal Istanbul project would end immediately.
According to OECD data, Turkey allocated 289 million dollars for waste management in 2008. Ever since, the country has developed and grown, right? Despite this, the money allocated for waste management fell to 147 million dollars in 2015. We have a government that does not want to manage waste and spend money on it. Burying trash is easy; the soil is free.
President Erdoğan's government recently suffered two fiascos, one involved thermal power plants while the other had to do with a plan to rescue the private company “Simit Sarayı”. So why would it press forward with the Kanal Istanbul project?
It is possible for us to close down all coal mines! The way to this has been paved with the veto on the proposed bill. But if we leave public policy unattended and representatives continue to leave parliament seats empty, the opposite will happen. I should point out as a warning that, just like the Environment and City Planning Minister could actually be referring to the business schedule when he says “we installed a filter in 6 months,” a similar wordplay could be at hand with the veto. We will go after the answer together, I promise.
The Ministry of Forestry routinely opens up forest ecosystems for economic exploitation. It distributes permits to use forests for mineral exploitation, mining, construction and even for oil drilling. In 2012, 2,810 permits were granted for those purposes. Between 2012 and 2018, that number rose to 18,515.
The government has found a way to take back the Bosphorus after losing İstanbul elections. The Ministry of Environment and Urbanization has drafted a 28 point legislative proposal called the Boshporus Law. With the new law, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality and four provinces no longer have any authority in the Bosphorus.
Volkswagen's investment plan in Turkey is a scandal. It is no less than an attempt to rescue a drowning company ensnared in corruption. While the Turkish public will bear the economic costs of this plan, environmental damage will also be caused.
Erdoğan changed the climate of the UN Climate Action Summit. He talked about how he multiplied fossil fuels and how not recycling waste is a good thing, and he put concrete as a policy on the world stage.
Turkey wants to be a party to the Paris Agreement as the structure of the deal allows countries to increase emissions. Turkey, which is among the 12 countries that have not yet joined the agreement, had added 193.5 million tons to climate changing greenhouse gases in last 20 years before 2010.