Turkey’s climate change declaration is wrought with deception

Minister of Environment and Urbanization, announced Turkey’s declaration to change the climate this week. However, there is no supporting documentation as of yet. There is only a PowerPoint presentation. And it looks more like a cover for a plan to increase the country’s carbon emissions. It makes a commitment to a high number of new demolitions by 2030; equivalent to the amount of demolitions carried out between 1990 and 2020.

The former Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ) chair, the current Minister of Environment and Urbanization, announced the other day Turkey’s declaration to change the climate. He made this announcement at the Beştepe Presidential Palace in Ankara, in the middle of the Atatürk Forest Farm, a building complex which was found to be illegally constructed by courts. Although the declaration was titled the “Final Declaration on Combating Climate Change,” its content indicates the opposite intent.

The declaration was announced, but there is no supporting documentation as of yet. There is only a PowerPoint presentation. There are no calculations that support the declaration. There is no standard measure or data.

Normally, countries plan to meet certain marks by 2050, such as not releasing certain amounts of greenhouse gases, and they make calculations to meet such targets and present them at national and international levels. This document Turkey has released looks more like a cover for a plan to increase the country’s carbon emissions. It makes a commitment to a high number of new demolitions by 2030; equivalent to the amount of demolitions carried out between 1990 and 2020.

This looks like the situation in which violence against women increased after there was new regulation against such violence. Just like how occupational accidents increased after new legal regulations for worker safety were passed.

Turkey became a signatory to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2004. During the same year, Turkey’s coal mining royalties were the highest in history. In 2009, Turkey signed the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Turkey then declared 2010 “the year of coal.” In 2015, the Paris Agreement was finalized. After returning from the signing ceremony, Turkey opened Sabancı Holding’s coal plant and even declared in the deal that its emissions would double. This ‘final’ declaration, announced most recently, is just a continuation of this pattern of behavior.

Turkey also published a Climate Change Strategy (2010-2020) in 2009 and prepared a Climate Change Action Plan in 2011. Now let us take a look at how successful these efforts have been.

A guide to understanding the declaration

Before anything else, here are the three golden rules to understand regarding these plans: Only existing practices are included in these plans; What should normally be done is added to the plans to look comprehensive; Practices that obstruct the desired aims and even accelerate climate change are included in these plans.

If one is aware of these norms, then one can easily understand the intent of all such plans that Turkey puts forth, not only those regarding the climate. This is a classic strategy of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Now let us read and analyze those 14 points laid out in this climate change declaration.

1 – “The Climate Law and the Report on Combating Climate Change will be presented to the parliament.”

How nice. However, you look at the other articles and how our current parliament is making laws, you will see that this is already a disaster.

2 – “The 2050 National Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change.”
This means they are procrastinating. They are putting off any obligations until 2050.

3 - "With Regional Climate Change Action Plans, our seven geographic regions will be harmonized with regard to climate change.”
If we look at their rhetoric and past experiences, this means more construction. Rather than zero-energy buildings, they will build residences. Instead of 100 percent recycling, there will be garbage everywhere.

4 – “Agriculture, livestock, tourism, renewable energy, an industrial strategy plan, and new spatial plans will be implemented.”
In other words, sectoral strategy plans will be made. Really? Was there a sectoral strategic plan when smoking was banned? When science says there is no longer room for coal, oil, and gas, why are we making plans based on procrastination?

5 - "The waste recovery rate will be increased to 60 percent in 2035 under the Zero Waste Project, which will be implemented throughout the country by 2023. In 2050, the domestic wastes will no longer be removed by regular burying.”

So, we will continue to bury waste until 2050. In 2035, maybe we will recycle 60 percent of the waste. Even if this is true, with such a delay, there will still be garbage everywhere.

6 – “The rate of treated wastewater, which is currently 2.5 percent in our country, will be increased to 5 percent in 2023 and 15 percent in 2030.”

This is extremely slow in our current environment when we are facing potential droughts. It is like they want to slow down such measures.

7 – “Electricity generating capacity from renewable energy sources will be increased. By 2030, our electricity generation from solar energy will be increased to a capacity of 10 GW and from wind energy to a capacity of 16 GW.”

How nice! The "Electricity Market Supply Security Strategy Document" adopted in 2009 said the wind energy target was 20 GW for 2023. I see you’ve reduced it to 16 GW and moved it to 2030. Nice try.

8 – “Emission Trading Scheme will be implemented, which will support climate-friendly investments and reward facilities that invest in clean production technologies.”

The key words here are reward and trade. Who will benefit from using the EU's ETS system? Companies or the general population?
20 years of procrastination

These are the first eight points of the 14-point plan. To summarize the rest: in articles 9 and 11, there is “money” to be transferred to the private sector; In article 10, there is proof that nothing good will be implemented as the energy identity document requirement, which has been constantly postponed, has now been postponed until 2030. The construction industry manages to postpone a simple step increasing energy efficient buildings for another 10 years;

Article 12 proposes urban transformation of areas such as riverbeds, etc. The government will use this as justification to allocate irrelevant places for new constructions. This has happened after the major earthquake in 1999; Article 13 mentions water saving. This might be a sign that it expects the public to fulfill such a promise; Article 14 is the establishment of a National Climate Change Research Center where scientific research will be conducted and policies will be made and monitored.

This document, presented as the Final Declaration on Combating Climate Change, is actually a document to change the climate. The biggest scandal in this document is that coal, oil, and gas, which are the main causes of climate change, are not even mentioned. In addition, in parallel structure to the Ministry of Environment, the Turkish Environment Agency is directly associated with the First Lady, Emine Erdoğan. The fact that she spoke right after the minister is indicative of that. As a matter of fact, in her speech, she said, “We should pay attention to several key points in the kitchen and in the bathroom.”

Turkey, during the AKP regime, has paved 550 million tons of asphalt, poured 1 billion tons of cement, imported half a billion tons of coal, and burned 1.7 billion tons of coal. Turkey consumed imported gas and oil to produce energy. Thus, in 2020, it smashed records with 984 climate disasters. Now, let alone reduction or restriction by 2050-2060, they are submitting a document that will multiply emissions until 2030.