Turkey’s Energy Demand and Its Effect to Environment - Yiğit Mert Yüreklitürk

Since liberalizing its economy in the 1980s, Turkey has an economy that has almost tripled in size over the past twenty years. With its 5-year development plans, Turkey hopes to become one of the world’s ten largest economies by the year 2023. Nonetheless, climate change is one of the main issues that countries face, and currently, Turkey’s growth aims are clashing with making environmentalist policies on the energy field. Because energy supply is a critical factor for economic growth and Turkey’s energy demand is increasing by 4% per year. This is happening because Turkey’s free-market economy is becoming increasingly dominated by its industry and service sectors, whereas its agricultural sector has become less prominent as well. A combination of these factors poses environmental issues.

Air, soil and water pollution altogether are considered as Turkey’s major concerns for the environment. Among them, air pollution reveals itself as the most significant one, especially in the country’s urban centers. According to the European Environment Agency (EEA), more than 97% of Turkey’s urban population is exposed to unsafe amounts of particulate matter pollution. Furthermore, data acquired from Turkey’s Ministry of Environment and Urbanization in 2017 found that the air pollution values in almost every province of this nation were between 151 and 200. In highly populated areas, these numbers reached over 300, whereas to have good air quality numbers are considered between 0 and 50. Additionally, Turkey’s carbon emissions have also risen significantly over the past three decades. As the world’s 20th largest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHGs), In 2016, Turkey’s total GHG emissions increased by 4.4% to reach 496.1 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, which perceived as the main problem to be dealt with. For problems concerning water, Turkey is already having a hard time over not having evenly dispersed water resources in-country. Lack of focus towards effective and integrated control over water resources, overfishing, and water pollution have led to a significant decline in fisheries as well. The production of anchovies, one of the most prevalent commercial fish in Turkey, fell by 28% in 2012, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute.

To strive against upcoming challenges from the environment, Turkey put building sustainable development policies and increasing the role of renewable energy (especially wind and geothermal power) to the center of its solutions. Turkey’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), which was submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) in 2015, stated targets for both solar and capacity to reach 10 GW and 16 GW, respectively, by 2030 as well. In the meantime, the state is trying to decrease its use of coal for electricity, which corresponds to 28%. Giving up economic aims is not an option, so the state is trying to maintain the level of growth by covering the energy demand from renewable sources. By 2023, Turkey aims to generate 30% of its total electricity from renewable energy sources.

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