Climate change in Turkey

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Climate change in Turkey includes changes in the climate of Turkey, their effects and how the country is adapting to those changes. Turkey's annual and maximum temperatures are rising,[3][4] and 2020 was the third hottest year on record.[5] Turkey will be greatly affected by climate change,[6][7]:7 and is already experiencing more extreme weather,[8] with droughts[9][10] and heatwaves being the main hazards.[11] Current greenhouse gas emissions by Turkey are about 1% of the global total,[12] and energy policy includes heavily subsidizing coal in Turkey.[13] Turkey is one of the few countries that has signed but not ratified the Paris Agreement, so is not one of the parties to the Paris Agreement. The Environment Ministry co-ordinates adaptation to climate change, and this has been planned for water resources by river basin, and for agriculture.

Greenhouse gas emissions[edit]

Coal, cars and cows discharge almost half of Turkey's five hundred million tonnes annual greenhouse gas emissions,[a] which are mostly carbon dioxide (CO
2
) with some methane.

Cows are subsidised, but the biggest driver of Turkey's greenhouse gas (GhG) is subsidies for coal-fired power stations and the lack of a price on carbon pollution. Turkey's share of ongoing global GhG emissions is about 1%, and per person emissions are six tonnes a year, which is around the global average. Turkey re-absorbs about a fifth of its GhG, mostly in its trees. The government supports reforestation, electric vehicle manufacturing and low-carbon nationally generated electricity. However, like neighbouring Iran, Turkey is one of the very few countries which has not ratified the Paris Agreement.

Impacts on the natural environment[edit]

Almost one hundred thin vertical stripes mostly bluer to the left and redder to the right
Warming stripes for Turkey

There were 2 significant periods of climate change in the Bronze Age.[17] According to Prof. Dr. Murat Türkeş, a member of the board of Boğaziçi University’s Center for Climate Change and Policy Studies, human caused climate change in Turkey started in the 1970s.[18] The descending edge of the Hadley cell may move northwards towards Turkey, whose southern border is around 36 degrees north, and this may reduce rainfall in the south of the country.[19]

Temperature and weather changes[edit]

As of 2020, the hottest year on record was 2010, then 2018 then 2020.[5]A climate change scenario in the 2011 National Action Plan on Climate Change estimated that the rise in the average annual temperature would be 2.5 °C to 4 °C,[20][21][22] and in 2021 the Agriculture and Forestry Deputy Minister said it would likely be between 1 and 2 degrees between that time and the end of the century.[23] Turkey is forecast to be more severely affected than many other countries,[24][25] but effects vary considerably across the regions of the country,[26] with the largest temperature rises forecast for southern and western regions in the summer.[23] The worst case is a 7 degree rise in temperature by 2100.[27]

map of Turkey, roughly a horizontal rectangle, showing a complex pattern of climate types, including a far amount of cold especially in the north and east
Köppen climate classification map for Turkey (1980-2016)
map of Turkey, roughly a horizontal rectangle, showing a complex pattern of climate types, but much less cold than the other map
Predicted Köppen climate classification map for Turkey in the future (2071-2100)

The weather is becoming more extreme,[8] and in May 2020 there were record high temperatures in many parts of the country.[28] During the 21st century temperatures are forecast to rise by 2-3 °C on average and precipitation to significantly reduce.[29] However precipitation may increase in the north,[30] and as well as more droughts more floods are predicted, due to rain falling instead of snow.[31] Seasonally there may be more precipitation in the winter but 50% less in spring and autumn.[5]

Wildfires in Turkey have increased[32] due to climate change,[33] and wind speed is predicted to increase throughout the Marmara region.[34]

road with large cracks being washed away by a roiling brown river
Flash floods are predicted to become more frequent as here in Sinop
a three arch bridge over a river with lots of water and trees along the banks
The Büyük Menderes River, full in November 2007, may halve its average flow by 2100 due to impacts of climate change.

Another effect that might occur as a result of climate change is floods due to sudden rains. Droughts risk mosquito borne diseases.[35]

Urban heatwaves[36] (especially in the south and east[23]), droughts,[37] storms,[38] and flooding,[39] may increase.[40]

Sea level rise[edit]

Tectonic uplift has decreased sea level rise between Samsun and Alanya, whereas several large river deltas have subsided.[41] Over 200 thousand people live in areas at risk of 1 meter sea level rise.[42] Istanbul is at risk from sea level rise,[43] for example Kadıkoy metro station is threatened with flooding.[31]

Water resources[edit]

Turkey is already a “water stressed” country, because the amount of water per person is about 1,500 m³ a year: due to population increase and climate change it is highly likely the country will be "water scarce" (less than 1,000 m³) by the 2070s.[44] Little change is forecast for water resources in the northern river basins, but a substantial reduction in the southern river basins.[44] Water stress is also forecast for Konya in central Turkey.[23]

Producing one gram of beef requires 122 litres of water (compared to 29 litres for the same amount of protein from eggs and 19 litres from plants),[45] but although climate change is causing droughts in Turkey,[46][47] cattle are subsidized.[48]

Ecosystems[edit]

In coastal areas, highly affected land types are permanent wetlands, croplands and grassland.[42] Climate models predict that extreme weather events will increase in the Mediterranean.[25]:151 Glaciers in Turkey are retreating:[49] the largest remaining are the glaciers on Mount Ararat and these are forecast to be gone by 2065,[50] as they are melting much faster than mountain glaciers in many other parts of the world.[2] Because the climate in the south is forecast to become hotter and drier it may be very difficult to keep the current southern forests.[51] In 2020 there were more forest fires than normal. Soil erosion is forecast to increase.[52] 2020 had a hotter December than before, and trees bloomed in Istanbul, which is not normal.[53] The rise in sea surface temperature is one of the causes of sea snot in the Sea of Marmara,[54] and is expected to further change marine life in Turkish waters.[55] There are concerns of bears in the Black Sea region not hibernating.[56]

Impacts on people[edit]

Economic impacts[edit]

Floods in 2020 caused billions of lira (hundreds of millions of dollars) in damages.[57] Environment minister Murat Kurum estimated in 2021 that losses due to disasters caused by climate change would amount to billions of lira (hundreds of millions of dollars).[58] Loss in Gross Domestic Product per person by 2100 is forecast to be less than 1% if the concentration of GhG in the atmosphere is kept fairly low (Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 2.6) but almost 8% for severe global warming (RCP 8.5).[59] For companies which responded to the Carbon Disclosure Project in 2020 the main climate change risk to their businesses is carbon pricing, such as the EU Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism.[60]

Agriculture[edit]

large cylindrical bales in a field which has been cut, lit by a low golden sun
Wheat may be severely affected

The increase in early blooming, which is happening due to climate change, can be a problem for crops such as fruit trees.[61] Vineyards in Thrace are being affected[62] and an EU carbon tariff might affect trade.[63] Unless global emissions are greatly reduced agriculture in Turkey, such as wheat,[64][65] is expected to be severely affected after the late 2030s especially in areas with rain fed agriculture.[66] Arid and semi-arid areas are at risk of desertification.[67] According to Professor Barış Karapınar, water is lost through evaporation due to old-fashioned irrigation techniques used by the Southeastern Anatolia Project, increasing the risk of severe water shortage.[68] Irrigated agriculture will decline as water stress increases and increasing food imports will hit Turkey's trade balance.[66] Damage to agriculture [69] is predicted to greatly increase,[66] for example due to "false spring" germination or blossoming followed by a cold snap.[5] Pine nut production has been severely reduced.[70] A significant decline in agricultural production is transmitted throughout the economy and reduces national welfare.[71]

Hydropower[edit]

Reduced precipitation[72] and hydroelectricity in Turkey is forecast,[73] for example in the Tigris and Euphrates river basins, like the 2020 drought.[74] To make up for reduced hydropower solar power is being added next to the hydropower.[75]

Fisheries and aquaculture[edit]

small silver fish in open polystyrene boxes labelled "Karadeniz hamsi kilo 7 lira"
Anchovies may no longer grow properly in Turkish waters.[76]

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, fishing in the Black Sea is sensitive to the impacts of climate change,[77] and according to the Turkish Marine Research Foundation all Turkish seas will be affected.[78][79] The warming of Lake Van is reducing oxygen for pearl mullet.[80]

Tourism[edit]

Tourism in Turkey may become too hot in the summer for some people, for example Antalya could become too hot for some people to visit during school holidays in summer.[81] Development of ski resorts in the Central Taurus and eastern Black Sea region mountains will need to be reconsidered.[82]

Health impacts[edit]

1,350 people died because of floods between 1970 and 2014 in Turkey and about 2 million people were affected by those floods.[25] Climate change may impact health in Turkey, for example due to increased heatwaves,[83] especially elderly and chronically ill people and children.[84]

Impacts on migration[edit]

There are over 3 million refugees of the Syrian Civil War in Turkey.[85] But although the severe drought of 2007 - 2008 in north-east Syria was made more likely by climate change,[86] according to academics it is very unlikely that this helped to start the Syrian civil war.[87]

According to the United Nations Development Programme decreasing rainfall is exacerbating the wide social and regional disparities within Turkey, and the gap between south-eastern provinces and the rest of the country is widening.[88]

Impacts on housing[edit]

Environmentalists say that new highways and building concrete is hindering absorption of floodwater by the land.[89] Because of the increase in temperature existing buildings will need more energy for cooling.[90]

Mitigation[edit]

Turkey's Energy Efficiency Action Act, which came into force in 2018, commits nearly US$11 billion to efficiency and could significantly limit emissions.[91] As of 2019, however, energy efficiency policies had yet to be translated into measurable targets and measures.[92] The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is investing in energy efficiency.[93]

Adaptation[edit]

Policies and legislation to achieve adaptation[edit]

A national strategy and action plan for adaptation to climate change was published in 2012,[94] but Turkey has yet to submit a National Adaptation Plan to the UNFCCC.[95] The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is researching the effects of climate change and developing an adaptation strategy.[96]

The Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning coordinates activities to combat climate change in Turkey.[94] In February 2021 the ministry said that adaptation plans for all seven regions had been completed and that it would present an adaptation report to parliament and set up a climate change research center.[97] At the same time the ministry said that work on sectoral adaptation strategies was continuing for: agriculture, livestock breeding, tourism, renewable energy and industry.[97]

The impacts of climate change on surface water and groundwater for individual water basins have been identified, and adaptation activities have been determined. The implementation area of the project is 25 river basins covering the whole of Turkey, and the projection period covers the years 2015 to 2100. Many other projects like Increasing water storage capacity; Lake-Water Project; Basin Protection Action Plans; Transforming Basin Protection Action Plans to River Basin; Management Plans; Studies on Protecting Drinking Water Basins; Drought Management Studies; Saving Water in Irrigation; Distribution of Water Among Sectors have been built.[25]:162 New building of over 2000 square metres must now include rooftop water collection.[45]

Studies have been done about adaptation to climate change in agriculture with various applications like fighting agricultural drought, good agriculture applications, and organic agriculture. Many projects have been put into practice. These include: Turkey’s Strategy of Fighting Agricultural Drought and Action Plan (2018-2022); Agricultural Monitoring and Information (TARBIL) System; Agriculture and Rural Development Support Institution (TKDK); Agricultural Insurance Law; Developing Agricultural Publication Project (TAR-GEL); Studies of Fighting Erosion; Climate Change National Action Plan-Agriculture Sector.[25]:167

According to the Eleventh Development Plan (2019-2023): "It is seen that climate change accelerating due to high greenhouse gas emissions causes natural disasters and poses a serious threat to humanity." and "International climate change negotiations will be conducted within the framework of the Intended National Contribution with the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, and within the scope of national conditions, climate change will be tackled in sectors causing greenhouse gas emissions and the resilience of the economy and society to climate risks will be increased by capacity building for adaptation to climate change."[98] As of 2021 the chief climate change envoy is Mehmet Emin Birpınar, a Deputy Minister of Environment.[99] Environment Minister Murat Kurum launched the Black Sea Climate Change Action Plan in 2019, as part of Turkey's plans to adapt to climate change.[100]

Society and culture[edit]

International cooperation[edit]

According to the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, climate change is one of the world's biggest problems.[101] At the G20 summit in 2020 the presidency stated: "Due to unfair status of Turkey in the current climate architecture, Turkey has not ratified the Paris Agreement yet." and "As a developing country, with a negligible historical responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions (less than 1%), Turkey looks forward to finding a fair, reasonable and wholly satisfactory solution to this issue at the earliest possible time, preferably during COP26 ... ". [102] Turkey was the fifth-largest recipient of multilateral climate funds between 2013 and 2016, receiving $231 million through channels such as the Clean Technology Fund (CTF) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).[95]

Turkey, like neighbouring Iran, is one of the few countries that has signed but not ratified the Paris Agreement, in other words it is a signatory but not one of the parties to the agreement.[103] The main opposition Republican People's Party has called for the agreement to be ratified.[104][105] Other countries are likely to press Turkey at the 2021 G20 and climate change summits.[106] The EU is urging Turkey to ratify the agreement.[107]:100 Turkey is not party to the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo Convention).[108] Similarly Turkey has signed but not ratified the Kigali Amendment to reduce production and use of hydroflourocarbons.[109] It has no carbon tax or emissions trading scheme, therefore carbon capture and storage is not used as it is not economically viable.[110] Armenia says that dam construction in Turkey has combined with climate change to reduce flow in the Araks River basin.[111]

Activism[edit]

In 2020 first lady Emine Erdoğan said that “Every wrong step we take can be a disaster for future generations”.[112] In 2021, according to Daily Sabah, she said that the role of individuals is more important than switching to renewable energy sources to cut dependency on fossil fuels.[97]

Xeriscaping of green spaces in cities has been suggested,[113] and Istanbul has a climate change action plan.[114] However, according to a 2018 study by Trakya University more local climate change action plans need to be prepared urgently.[115]

In 2019 some Turkish schoolchildren joined the School strike for climate,[116] and Turkey's branch of Extinction Rebellion demonstrated for Turkey to ratify the Paris Agreement.[117]

Muslim environmentalists and academics quote the Quran in support of their environmentalism.[118] In Istanbul in 2015, Islamic leaders urged the world's 1.6 billion Muslims to help defeat climate change.[119][120]

Children's-rights petition and lawsuit[edit]

Environmental activist Greta Thunberg and 15 other children filed a petition in 2019 protesting lack of action on the climate crisis by Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, and Turkey[121][122] saying that, amongst other dangers, more deadly heat waves would affect them and other children in future. [123] :29 The petition challenged the five countries under the Convention on the Rights of the Child:[124] "Comparable emissions to Turkey’s rate of emissions would lead to more than 4°C of warming."[123]:66 If the petition is successful, the countries will be asked to respond; however, any suggestions are not legally binding.[125][126] In 2020, Turkey and 32 other countries were sued at the European Court of Human Rights by a group of Portuguese children.[127]

Media and arts[edit]

In the 1990s independent Açık Radyo (Open Radio) broadcast some of the first media coverage of climate change, and its founder Ömer Madra (in Turkish) emphasises "The three Y’s in the fight on climate change: Yerel (local) Yatay (horizontal) and Yavaş (slow, no resort to violence)."[128] İklim Haber (Climate News) also covers climate change issues in Turkish and English.[129] Mainstream Turkish media tends to view new coal-fired power stations as increasing employment rather than causing climate change; nearly all media owners have financial interests in fossil fuels.[130]:17,20 The media covers climate change only during extreme weather events, with insufficient expert opinions or civil-society perspectives.[131]:28 The arts are raising awareness of climate change, and education is supported by the EU.[132][133]

Public perception[edit]

Individual action on climate change is not properly understood (in a survey of primary school teachers many erroneously prioritised using less cosmetics) and neither are government choices on climate change mitigation (in the same survey only a minority correctly prioritised curbing fossil fuel use).[134] Future warming of seawater by Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant is wrongly thought by some to be relevant to climate change,[26] and few know that geothermal power in Turkey might emit considerable CO
2
.[135]

İklim Haber (Climate News) and KONDA Research and Consultancy found in 2018 that over three-quarters of public opinion on climate change thinks that extreme weather has increased.[136] According to the latest report written in Turkish and prepared by another collaboration of İklim Haber and Konda Research in 2020, 51.5% of the public opinion believe that the climate crisis is a bigger threat than the coronavirus crisis.[137] Also, 71.4% of the public opinion acknowledge that current climate crisis is a result of human activities.[137] Some construction companies have been accused of greenwashing, advertising their buildings as environmentally friendly without obtaining any green building certificates.[138]

In a 2019 E3G poll of six Belt and Road Initiative countries (including Turkey), solar was the most popular energy source and coal the least popular.[139] Twenty-four Turkish cities committed to the Paris Agreement targets that year,[140] and the United Nations Development Programme partnered with the Turkish Basketball Federation in 2020 to raise public awareness of the fight against climate change.[141] A 2020 study found that the level of public support for a potential carbon tax does not depend on whether the proceeds are used for mitigation and adaptation.[142]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Coal burning 154 Mt,[14]:56 fugitive emissions from coal mines 7 Mt[14]:150 (the pie chart shows coal used for electricity), road transport 77 Mt (cars not split out but from global figure we can assume at least half,[15] also around 350 billion passenger-km[14]:114 so as new cars in Turkey emit 120g/km which is less than old cars[16]:1 it must be at least 42 Mt)[14]:126 cows 32 Mt made up of 27 Mt enteric fermentation[14]:272 and 5 Mt manure management[14]:278,279 so by simple arithmetic coal + cars + cows emit at least 228 Mt which is almost half of the total 506 Mt (given that car manufacturing and the cows' share of agricultural diesel has not been included and the uncertainty in the total is 5.8%[14]:488).

Further reading[edit]

  • Turkey, Country Profile (Report). Climate Transparency. 2020.

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