If today’s climate issues are the result of coal, petrol and gas that were consumed 10 to 15 years ago, what will happen in 2020? And what about the amount of asphalt and concrete that was tarred last year? If the tarring increases, it is likely to add to the climate issue.

2016 was recorded as the warmest year recorded in history. The other warmest years were 2017, 2015 and 2018. In other words, the past 4 years were recorded as the warmest 4 years in history. According to recent statistics, 2019 was the second warmest year in history, after 2016. With the recently announced stats, 2019 become the 4th warmest year. The earth is gradually getting warmer.

Yet the problem is not only global warming. The frequency and severity of climate change is another issue. As the amount of greenhouse gas rises, the earth warms up and energy accumulates. This accumulation must be consumed somehow. Just like a heated and covered pot, that cover will not be able to hold for long.

Between 1950 and 1999, Turkey suffered extreme climate issues. The General Directorate of Meteorology (MGM) refers to them as “extreme meteorological issues.” According to findings from the MGM, there have been approximately 108 extreme climate or meteorological issues between 1950 and 1999. In the 2000s, the number rose to approximately 270. So extreme climate issues have increased by 2.5 times the level they used to be. And from 2010 onwards, it got worse. The total number of “extreme meteorological issues” amounted to 614. That entails an increase of 6 since the second half of the past century.

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.

Besides, as the “climate crisis” is brought up more often, it loses its meaning. Politicians and civil society leaders use the expression without putting forward anything beyond promoting awareness about it. And there is clearly little intent to tackle it: in 2019, Turkey poured more than 40 million tons of asphalt. That same year, 72.5 million tons of cement was produced and 64,5 million tons of it were sold in the domestic market.

With regards to coal, gas and petroleum, imports surpassed 41 billion dollars in 2019. By tarring more than 40 million tons of asphalt and pouring 64.5 million tons of cement as well as wasting 41 billion dollars on fossil fuel imports, Turkey has played a significant role in climate change.

Still, one can’t overlook the fact that 2019 was a watershed for Turkey with regards to climate issues. Who would have guessed three months ago that that this country’s government would be forced to shut down some thermal plants? Or who could have said that the president would veto a resolution which passed with 85% approval from the parliament, which would have allowed the coal plants that did not abide by environmental regulations to operate freely?

In 2020, more thermal plants must be shut down. Local authorities should also halt their perpetual laying of asphalt and concrete. Rather than asphalt and concrete, municipalities should focus on improving the environment.