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Think-Tank Comparisons: Turkey vs. the World - Nur Durmaz


Civil society organizations are now a part of our lives. We benefit from them in different ways, using what they give us. In addition to these organizations, think tanks are increasing their activities. Think-Tanks are organizations that produce policy-oriented analysis and advice on national and international issues, thus enabling policymakers and the public to make informed decisions about public policy and research many specific issues. According to the 2020 Think Tanks Global Index prepared by the Think Tanks and Civil Society Program, there are nearly 12 thousand think tanks globally, and only 53 of them are in Turkey. Even in countries considered less developed than Turkey, there are more think tanks.


Turkey is a country that remains a little more self-centered compared to the basic study areas of think tanks in other countries. While energy is the subject that attracts the most attention, it is possible to see a similar pattern to Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa (MENA) in this regard. Another issue that attracts the attention of think tanks is climate change and the problems that come with it. In recent years, think tanks dealing with the environment and energy in Europe and the USA are one of the most important issues. According to the European Commission, one of the bodies of the European Union, research on future scenarios predicts that climate change will have a dramatic impact on natural environments, plants, and animals, leading to an accelerated loss of biodiversity in some regions. These impacts are thought to have knock-on effects for many communities and sectors that depend on natural resources, including agriculture, fisheries, energy, tourism, and water. While the European Commission takes action on such an important issue, it may inspire other European countries. For this reason, the issues that a strong supranational organization cares about, policies, can make countries and national organizations turn their heads in that direction. On the other hand, since Turkey is in the status of a developing country trying to reduce its dependence on foreign sources, it is not unusual to deal with energy issues first and to look at the climate crisis in the same way after the problems related to energy are put on track with certain policies.


Climate change and the risks it brings are always on the agenda. However, energy is important for countries dependent on foreign countries because economy and energy are two important issues that countries fall upon. MENA region is very sensitive to the risk of climate change impact due to water scarcity, the concentration of economic activities in coastal areas, and dependence on climate-sensitive agriculture and differs from Turkey in this aspect. Despite its relatively low overall greenhouse gas emissions compared to other regions, MENA has the third-largest carbon emissions growth globally, compounding the risk of climate change. High carbon emissions originate predominantly from oil-producing countries, which account for 74 percent of the region. On the other hand, according to the International Energy Agency's report published in 2021, Turkey's rapid economic growth and population growth in the last two decades have led to strong growth in energy demand and caused a corresponding increase in import dependency. As a result, Turkey has restructured its energy system to rationalize the increase in energy demand, lower energy prices for consumers, and slow the growth rate of imports. Therefore, the establishment of a nuclear power plant in Turkey attracted the attention of think tanks, and this issue was on the agenda. However, it is not clear whether this is seen as a crisis or whether it gives us an advantage. Although the configurations of Turkey and the MENA region for energy are different, this is the most important issue for think tanks in recent years.


Climate is the most valued issue in African countries. This is because the negative impact of climate change on Africa is severe due to high agricultural dependency and limited adaptation capacity. It may be necessary to look optimistically towards Turkey in this regard. Findings show that the share of the agricultural sector in production and added value has decreased over the years. When the foreign trade of livestock is examined, foreign dependency on livestock development goes back to the early 1990s. Compared to crop production, Turkey seems to be a foreign-dependent country in livestock. Looking at these findings, if we continue like this, we can have a similar scenario in which African countries have experienced or will experience the negative effects of climate change.


On the other hand, the USA and Asian countries such as China, Japan, and India rank first in carbon emissions. For this reason, it is more common for think tanks there to conduct research on this subject compared to Turkey. However, the carbon ratio in Turkey must have attracted the attention of Turkish think tanks, as they gave place to their publications on this subject. Turkey's emissions are likely to increase significantly as its expanding energy needs are largely met by fossil fuels, particularly coal for electricity generation. However, it has promised some efforts to limit the increase in emissions. However, due to the signing of the Paris Agreement and the slow development of sustainable development goals, it is not known how important reducing carbon emissions in Turkey is.


Turkey has been selected as having one of the greatest potentials among European countries to expand renewable energy sources, primarily wind and geothermal energy. However, the share of renewable energy in our electricity generation these days fluctuates between 35-45%. Turkey's renewable energy capacity is expected to increase by over 26 GW, or 53%, mainly in 2021-2026. If it increases in this way, Turkey may be less energy-dependent and one of the leading countries tackling the climate crisis.



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