Greenhouse gas emissions by Turkey
Greenhouse gas emissions by Turkey are the release of greenhouse gasses, such as carbon dioxide or hydrofluorocarbons, to the atmosphere by Turkey. Turkey's human contributions to emissions can be segmented by sector, such as looking specifically at Turkey's power stations or transport. In addition, the natural and agricultural landscape of Turkey contributes to its national greenhouse gas emissions, with methane and N2O from agriculture more than offset by carbon dioxide trapped by forests, thus slightly reducing Turkey's overall emissions. Turkey's policies on energy, industry, and agriculture affect its level of emissions. The media, academics, non-governmental organizations and individuals have provided commentary on Turkey's policies and levels of emissions.
Coal, cars, cows, and construction account for about half Turkey's 2018 greenhouse gas emissions,[a] but almost a fifth was absorbed by trees. Turkey emitted about 520 million tons (Mt) of CO
2 in 2018. Around 100 Mt was reabsorbed by land use, land-use change, and forestry (LULUCF), mostly by forests. Turks emits about 1% of the world's total greenhouse gases, averaging over six tonnes each, somewhat worse than the global average per person of five tonnes. Burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat and transport in Turkey, emitted over 70% of greenhouse gasses in 2018 and industry and agriculture emitted over 10% each; whereas forests and reforestation together absorbed about 20%. Coal, which is used to generate electricity, for heating and by industry, accounts for the largest part of Turkey's fossil fuel CO
2 emissions; followed by petroleum products used for transport; and natural gas, used for heating and electricity generation.
Although climate change in Turkey is forecast to have severe impacts, the country's plans to limit emissions have been described as "critically insufficient by the independent research organization Climate Action Tracker. Turkey has signed but not ratified global agreements on reducing greenhouse gas emissions: the country has not yet ratified the Kigali accord to regulate hydrofluorocarbons, and is one of the few countries that have not ratified the Paris agreement on climate change. One of the main reason for Turkey's high rate of emissions is that coal-fired power stations in Turkey are subsidized. Emissions grew quickly during the late 20th and early 21st centuries, though Turkey increased investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy in the 2010s and 2020s. Turkey is likely to meet the “unambitious” Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) it has submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
In 2015 Turkey submitted its emissions target to the UNFCCC, being "up to 21 percent reduction in GHG emissions from the Business as Usual level by 2030", aiming to emit 929 Mt CO2eq (without LULUCF) in 2030. However that much increase during the 2021-2030 implementation period (see graph) would mean emitting over 10 tonnes per person in 2030. The national strategy and action plan only partly covers mitigation and only for the short-term and the OECD has recommended that climate change mitigation efforts be increased.
Comparison with the European Union targetEdit
As the EU is Turkey's main trading partner, a comparison with targets in the European Green Deal is important to help avoid possible future carbon tariffs on Turkish exports, such as steel and cement. Unless policy, such as Turkey's energy policy, is changed EU emissions per person are forecast to fall below Turkey's during the 2020s.
Greenhouse gas sourcesEdit
With a population of 80 million Turkey's per person emissions are somewhat above the world average, which is 5 tonnes per person per year. The government agency Turkish Statistical Institute (Turkstat) follows Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) guidelines and uses production based greenhouse gas emissions accounting to compile Turkey's emission inventory, which is submitted annually to the UNFCCC each April about 15 months after the end of the year.[b] Consumption-based emissions are estimated by Global Carbon Project to have been 470 Mt CO2eq in 2017.
Burning fossil fuels for heat and powerEdit
In 2018 combustion of coal in Turkey contributed most to fossil fuel emissions, followed by oil and then natural gas.  In 2018 Turkey's energy sector[c] emitted almost three quarters of the country's greenhouse gases, while industrial processes and product use (IPPU) and agriculture each emitted an eighth. The largest emitters are energy industries—mainly electricity generation—followed by transport. Carbon capture and storage barely exists in Turkey's energy sector; it is not economically viable as Turkey has no carbon emission trading.
Power stations in Turkey emitted 149 Mt CO2eq in 2018 while generating public heat and electricity, mostly from burning coal. Turkey's emissions from electricity generation was forecast to rise as high as 200 Mt by 2021.[d]
Almost all coal burnt in power stations is either local lignite or imported hardcoal. Coal analysis of Turkish lignite compared to other lignites shows it to have a lot of ash and moisture, a low energy value of coal and high emission intensity: in other words Turkish lignite emits more CO2 than typical lignites per unit energy produced when burnt. However although imported hardcoal has a slightly lower emission intensity when burnt, the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions take account of transportation so are similar.
With its nuclear power station not yet completed and despite considerable potential for expansion of renewable energy in Turkey, which except for geothermal emits little CO2eq, the country averages a grid emission intensity over 460 gCO2eq/kWh (over 125 t/TJ), similar to that of natural gas. Grid intensity per person is worse than the global average, which was 450 gCO2eq/kWh in 2017.
Coal fired power stationsEdit
Coal fired power stations in Turkey emitted 111 Mt CO2eq in 2018. If operated at the targeted capacity factor, planned new units at Afşin Elbistan would add over 60 million tonnes of CO
2 per year. By comparison, total annual emissions are about 520 million tonnes; thus more than a tenth of greenhouse gas emissions by Turkey would be from the planned power station.[e][f]
Coal in Turkey is the largest source of the nation's greenhouse gases. Over a million tonnes of CO2 is emitted for every TWh of electricity generated in Turkey by coal-fired power stations. Once industry- and building heating-related emissions, as well as methane emissions from coal mining, are added to those from coal-fired electricity generation, about one third of Turkey's annual emissions come from coal.[g] In 2018 coal combustion emitted over 150 Mt CO2eq. Annual methane emissions from underground coal mining are estimated at 2 Mt CO2eq and opencast 3 Mt. Eren Holding, via Eren Enerji's coal-fired ZETES power stations, emits over 2% of Turkey's greenhouse gases; and İÇDAŞ emits over 1% via its Bekirli coal-fired power stations.
Gas fired power stationsEdit
Gas fired power stations in Turkey emitted 37 Mt CO2eq in 2018. As of 2019[update], however, some power utilities, including at least three gas-fired plants, were struggling to repay their foreign currency debts after the depreciation of the lira. Subsidies are being reduced in 2020.
Transport emitted 85 Mt of CO2eq in 2018, about one tonne per person and 16% of the nation's total. Road transport dominated emissions from transport in Turkey with 79 Mt, including agricultural vehicles. More than three quarters of Turkey's road transport emissions come from diesel. Average emissions of new cars in 2016 were around 120 gCO2/km and, in contrast to the EU's 2021 target of 95 gCO2/km, Turkey has no target. As of 2018[update], Turkey lacks any measures to reduce the well to wheel impact of petrol and diesel vehicles. As of 2019[update] fuel quality and emissions standards for new cars are less strict than those in the neighbouring EU, and around 45% of cars are over 10 years old and energy inefficient.
In 2018 domestic flights[h] emitted 4 Mt of CO2eq and in 2019 the large new Istanbul Airport was opened. Turkish Airlines did not respond to the 2018 Carbon Disclosure Project questionnaire and in 2019, the airline was named as one of those with the weakest plans to cut emissions.
Burning fuel to heat buildings and cookEdit
Residential fuel such as natural gas, coal and wood contributed 39 Mt CO2eq in 2018. As of 2017[update] the end-user price of natural gas is subsidized. Subsidies for poor families to use coal for heating produce black carbon, a contributor to climate change, and other local air pollution.
Burning fuel, such as coal and natural gas, for commercial and institutional buildings emitted 14 Mt CO2eq in 2018.
In 2018, Turkey's industrial sector emitted an eighth of its greenhouse gases. As of 2019[update], estimates of the effects of government policy on the sector's emissions are lacking. Some business-people are concerned that a future European Green Deal might include a carbon border tax which Turkey would be outside. The European steel-making industry has complained that imports from Turkey are unfair competition because they are not subject to a carbon tax.
Turkey is the 4th largest cement producer in the world and in 2017 cement production emitted 7% of the countries total GHG. Although Turkey's construction sector contracted considerably at the end of 2018 thus using less cement, 72.5 million tons of cement was produced in 2019 of which 64,5 million tons was sold in the country.
Agriculture and wasteEdit
In 2018, agriculture accounted for an eighth of Turkey's greenhouse gas emissions, mainly due to enteric fermentation, agricultural soils, and fertilizer management. In the agricultural sector cattle emit the most.[i] The amount of nitrous oxide emitted by agricultural soils, however, is uncertain.
On average Turks eat 15kg of red meat each year, and the country produced 1 million tonnes of beef in 2019. There are about 18 million cattle in the country, over 600,000 live cattle were imported in 2019, and both cattle and fuel for agriculture are subsidized. Sheep, and goats emit less than cattle and are also subsidized but, as of 2019[update], estimates of the effects of government policy on the agriculture and waste sectors' emissions are lacking.
In 2018, the waste sector contributed 3.4% of the country's greenhouse gas emissions, and landfilling is the most common waste disposal method. Organic waste sent to landfill emits methane, so Turkey is working to improve sustainable waste and resource management. But by 2020 there was no agreement on whether composting is a good solution, with some arguing for incineration.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissionsEdit
Turkey's Energy Efficiency Action Act, which came into force in 2018, commits nearly $11 billion (USD) to efficiency and could significantly limit emissions. As of 2019[update], however, energy efficiency policies had yet to be translated into measurable targets and implementation measures. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is investing in energy efficiency.
Emissions could be considerably reduced by switching from coal power to already-existing gas-fired power stations, because there is enough generating capacity to shut down all coal-fired power stations and still meet peak energy demand. As of 2019[update], high interest rates are an obstacle to the construction of solar power plants, but a domestic solar panel factory is expected to start production in 2020. Even if rainfall may reduce somewhat in future due to climate change, after upgrading or repowering and adding a little pumped hydro there are enough existing hydropower dams in Turkey to provide plenty of dispatchable generation to balance a lot more variable renewable energy: so wind and solar power could expand to avoid carbon lock-in if Turkey's energy policy were changed to remove the US$1.6 billion annual fossil fuel subsidies. Experimentation with hydrogen distribution is planned for 2021: moving towards a hydrogen economy, for example for heating, could reduce dependence on imported natural gas. In rural areas without a piped gas supply, heat pumps can be used as an alternative. Geothermal electricity installed capacity in Turkey totalled 1.6 Gigawatts in 2020 with potential for expansion, but it is unclear how much of Turkish geothermal power is low-carbon.
National and international investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency are being made; for example, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is supporting the installation of smart meters.
At the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit, Turkey was a co-leader of the group which committed to zero carbon buildings for all new construction by 2030 and converting all existing buildings to zero emissions by 2050. However building standards in Turkey do not take into account the climatic differences across the country. The existing 2005 Environment Act, the Energy Efficiency Regulation, and green building certificates are often not properly implemented. Academics at Sabancı University have suggested adopting the EU standard to increase the proportion of passive houses (2018/844/EU amending the directive on the energy performance of buildings). Building codes need improvement to ensure that if parking spaces are provided they have enough charging points. Geothermal heating installed capacity in Turkey totally 3.5 GW thermal in 2020 with potential for 60 GWt, but it is unclear how much is low-carbon.
The biggest reduction in emissions from cement production could be made by reducing its clinker content from the current 87%, for example by making LC3 cement, which is only half clinker; the second-biggest reduction could be made by switching half of the fuel from hard coal and petcoke to a mixture of rubber from waste tires, refuse-derived fuel and biomass. The country has plenty of these materials, but most kilns use coal, petroleum coke or lignite as the primary energy source. More cross-laminated timber could be used for building, instead of concrete.
Further decarbonization of cement production would depend heavily on carbon capture and storage (CCS). Despite the earthquake risk from the geology of Turkey, CCS may be technically feasible in a salt dome near Lake Tuz or in Diyarbakır Province. However CCS is not currently financially viable because as of 2019[update] the country has no carbon pricing system.
For the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit on carbon neutrality by 2050, Turkey co-led the coalition on decarbonization of land transport. Although there are several manufacturers of electric buses and many are exported, as of 2018[update], fewer than 100 are in use within the country. Cities could be improved to make local journeys by bicycle safer. The world's first all-electric tug is due to start work in Istanbul harbor in 2020. Electric buses and hybrid cars are manufactured locally, and Turkey's automotive industry plans to make a national electric car from 2022. Creation of a domestic EV market is expected to have many benefits including: charging being cheaper than fuelling, job creation, and saving the country money on oil imports. However introducing smart charging is important. The legality of ridesharing companies is unclear, and taxis could be better integrated with public transport. As of 2018[update], most of the country has no fast charging stations. In 2019 the country had about 1300 electric cars and two public charging stations per car. As of 2020[update], there were no low-emission zones in any Turkish cities, although enabling regulations were introduced in 2019. The rate of the special consumption tax—a sales tax on luxuries such as private cars—and the annual motor-vehicle tax is lower for electric cars than for fossil fuel cars, but suppliers of car batteries must pay a "recycling contribution fee". In 2019, 0.1% of cars sold were hybrid or electric. Partly due to high import tariffs very few foreign-made electric cars are sold. Legislation is being considered to tax high emitting cars more than low.
Increasing greenhouse gas absorption by forests and soilsEdit
Carbon sinks, which in Turkey consist mainly of forests, offset almost 20% of national emissions in 2018. But this figure for Reforestation in Turkey and changes in land use is a rough estimate as warmer and drier air in the south and west may make it difficult to sustain the present forest cover. NGOs such as the TEMA Foundation are encouraging reforestation and in 2015, the government stated that, by 2050, “forests are envisioned to stretch across over four-fifths of the country's territory”. However, according to Ege University Associate Professor Serdar Gökhan Senol, sometimes the government is too focused on the economics and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry replants when sometimes it should just wait for regrowth.
In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, growth of the Turkish economy and population was linked to increased emissions from electricity generation, industry and construction. However, when economic growth resumes after Turkey's late 2010s recession, it would be possible to further expand the country's renewable energy potential and invest in energy efficiency given a sustainable energy policy, decoupling Turkey's economic growth from its greenhouse gas emissions.
Turkey's carbon emissions cost Turkey money, even without carbon tariffs from other countries. The long-term impact of climate change on any economy is highly uncertain and very difficult to estimate. Although the short-term co-benefits of climate-change mitigation have been estimated at over US$50/tonne CO2 abated for health alone for middle-income countries generally and USD 764 million for Turkey. Academics have estimated that, if Turkey and other countries invested to keep to the Paris Agreement, then Turkey would break even around 2060.
Boğaziçi University have developed a decision support tool and integrated assessment model for energy and environmental policy for Turkey. A 2018 study put the health benefits at over 2,800 premature deaths avoided per year and a substantial increase in GDP because of reduced PM 2.5 air pollution in the country. Another study estimated that by creating a national emissions trading market at a US$50/tonne carbon price the INDC commitment could be met at a cost of 0.8% of GDP by 2030. But it did not estimate how much the benefits would offset that cost or what the cost of not having a market would be. Currently there is only a voluntary market. A revenue neutral carbon tax might be best for the economy, and without a carbon tax or emissions trading the country could be vulnerable to future carbon tariffs imposed by the EU, the UK or other export partners.
In 2018 the government forecast that GHG emissions were expected to increase in parallel to the GDP growth in the next decade. In 2015 less than half of Turkey's carbon emissions from energy use were priced. Taxes meet the social cost of road transport carbon, although not the social cost of Turkey's local air pollution, but all other sectors have a large gap between the actual tax (6 euros per tonne CO2 in 2018) and the tax if this negative externality had been fully included, thus the external cost of most greenhouse gas emissions is not being borne by the emitters and the polluter pays principle is being violated.
In 2017, a tenth of Turkey's electricity was generated by renewables, which reduced gas import costs. But being mainly hydroelectricity, this percentage is vulnerable to drought. According to Hülya Saygılı, an economist at Turkey's central bank, although imports of solar and wind power components accounted for 12 percent of import costs in 2017, in EU countries this is largely due to one-time setup costs. She said that compared with Italy and Greece, Turkey has not invested enough in solar and wind power.
Although improved health would be the primary benefit of cutting air pollution in Turkey, because most of the air pollution is caused by burning fossil fuels a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions would be a co-benefit; for example of low emission zones for city traffic, and replacing the distribution of free coal with a different support for poor families. Increasing the share of renewable energy could make the country more energy independent and increase employment especially in Turkey's solar PV and solar heating industries.
The Climate Change and Air Management Coordination Board is responsible for coordination across government departments. It also includes three business organizations. Policy for a just transition away from carbon-intensive assets such as coal is lacking. In 2019 ratification of the Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol reducing emissions of hydrofluorocarbons  was under consideration by parliament and awaiting presidential approval. As of 2020[update] it had not been ratified but there are some restrictions and revision of the 2018 regulation is being considered (see also Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals).
According to Ümit Şahin, who teaches climate change at Sabancı University, Turkey sees industrialized Western countries as solely responsible. When limiting their actions on climate change, Turkey and some other countries have cited the United States withdrawal from the Paris Agreement promised by President Trump.
It has been suggested that, although limiting emissions through directives to the state owned gas and electricity companies would be less effective than a carbon price or tax, it would be more politically acceptable. According to former Economy Minister Kemal Dervish, the gains from the green transition will be spread across large parts of the population; while the losses will be concentrated on specific groups, making them more visible and politically disruptive. People in Turkey taking individual and political action on climate change on the streets and online include children demanding action and petitioning the UN.
Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez favors coal and Environment Minister Murat Kurum is making plans for adaptation. The 2 proposed coal power plants are mainly financed by governments, the Chinese funded Emba Hunutlu power station and Turkey Wealth Fund backed Afşin-Elbistan C, and may or may not actually complete construction, despite government guarantee to purchase electricity from lignite-fired power stations until 2024 at an inflation-linked price. Turkey's climate change policy includes an increase in the economic life of coal reserves. As of 2019[update] the government aims to keep the share of coal in the energy portfolio at around the same level in the medium to long term.
Ratification of the Paris agreementEdit
According to Turkey's Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, climate change is one of the world's biggest problems. Like neighboring Iran and Iraq, Turkey is one of the few countries that have not ratified the Paris agreement on climate change, and has said it will not ratify until it is given more access to international loans for emission reduction and renewable energy investments.
Access to dataEdit
About 800 entities, including power plants over 20 MW, send measurements of their GHG emissions to the government. Unlike conditions under the European Union Emission Trading Scheme, where data must be openly shared with the public, as of 2018[update], monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) data in Turkey is not open to public access, although some companies report voluntarily. Quantitative estimates of the impacts of individual government policies on greenhouse gas emissions either have not been made or are not publicly available  and neither are projections of long-term (to 2050) policy impacts. Up to date GDP and population growth forecasts have not been incorporated into models and assumptions such as future energy intensity, energy demand and electricity consumption are not known. Whether sensitivity analysis of ghg scenarios has been done is also not known. Turkey has told the UNFCCC that many details needed to understand GHG past trends and future projections "could not be provided for confidentiality reasons."
Children's rights complaintEdit
In 2019 environmental activist Greta Thunberg and 15 other children made an official complaint against five nations that are not on track to meet the emission reduction targets they committed to in their Paris Agreement pledges: Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, and Turkey. The complaint challenges these five countries under the Third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Protocol is a quasi-judicial mechanism which allows children or their representatives, who believe their rights have been violated to bring a complaint before the relevant ‘treaty body’, the Committee on the Rights of the Child. If the complaint is successful, the countries will be asked to respond, but any suggestions are not legally binding.
According to journalist Pelin Cengiz, the mainstream media of Turkey tends to cover newly opened coal-fired power stations in Turkey as increasing employment rather than causing climate change, and almost all owners have financial interests in fossil fuels. According to Şahin the media covers climate change only in times of extreme weather events, but does not include sufficient perspectives from civil society or expert opinion. Some construction companies have been accused of greenwashing by advertising their buildings as environmentally friendly without actually obtaining any green building certificates.
Trends and researchEdit
Energy research is done at the Shura Energy Transition Center, at Sabancı University. The UNFCCC has asked for much more detail to be provided in the annual reports, so that emissions projections provided by Turkey for various government policies and Shared Socioeconomic Pathways can be understood, for example details of the integrated assessment models developed by Işık University and Bosphorus University, which are used for non-energy emissions. Emissions from industry and energy have been modelled by the Energy Ministry and the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey using TIMES-MACRO.
- Coal totals (pie chart less as just electricity) 150 Mt CO2 . Following figures from Turkstat tables. Cows enteric fermentation 1034 kt CH4, manure management 143 kt CH4 and 6.08 kt N2O, totals 42Mt Co2eq. Construction (cement only) 37 Mt CO2. Road transport (cars not split out but likely more than half) 77 Mt CO2.
- As "national communications" are required every 4 years the 5th biennial report and 8th national communication may be combined as the same document, as was the case previously.
- Under IPCC guidelines the energy sector includes fuel for transport.
- In 2018, the carbon content(t/TJ), oxidation factor and CO2 emission intensity (t/TJ NCV) of the main fossil fuels burnt in Turkish power stations were:Lignite 31, 0.973, 108 Hardcoal 26, 0.975, 94 Natural gas 15, 1, 56 The CO2 emission intensity (or emission factor) shown above is the mass of CO2 emitted for each unit of heat produced by burning a fuel. In contrast the grid emission intensity is the mass of CO2eq produced per unit of electricity supplied to the electrical grid. Because thermal power stations generally convert less than half of the heat energy into electrical energy, their numbers for grid emission intensity are much greater than those shown above.
- 62 megatonnes would be emitted annually if run at the targeted capacity factor, whereas Turkey's current annual emissions are 521 megatonnes. By simple arithmetic 62 megatonnes is more than 10% of 521+62 megatonnes.
- On average somewhat over a million tonnes of CO2 was emitted for every TWh of electricity generated in Turkey by coal-fired power stations in 2010. This power station aims to generate just over 12.5 TWh (gross) per year. The calculation in the EIA assumes an emission factor of 94.6 tCO2/TJ, which is three times the average of 31 for Turkish lignite, but it is unclear whether this is the only reason the CO2 emissions per kWh are predicted to be very high compared to the 2010 average. Since 2020, more stringent filtering of local air pollutants from the smokestack has been compulsory. Moreover, although the average is about 2800, the net calorific value of Turkish lignite varies between 1000 and 6000 kcal/kg.
- 29% of the 521 Mt gross emissions in 2018 or 35% of the 426 Mt net emissions
- Emissions from international journeys are not included in a country's emissions total but fuel sales for international aviation can be found in Common Reporting Format category 1.A.3.a.1A. Turkey has joined the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation.
- Following figures for cattle from Turkstat tables: enteric fermentation 1034 kt CH4, manure management 143 kt CH4 and 6.08 kt N2O, totals 42 Mt Co2eq
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