– Turkey could struggle to take a fair part in the global fight against climate change, due to the upsurge in coal consumption and investments on coal-fired power plants, urged international NGOs and academicians, amid ongoing climate talks in Paris.
Turkey should “adopt a low-carbon development strategy and lead away its energy production from carbon-high paths”, Professor Ethemcan Turhan, Researcher at Sabancı University Istanbul Policy Center told Doğan News Agency, during the COP21 Summit in Paris.
Renewable energy costs are equal to coal, if direct and non-direct support to fossil fuel subsidies are cut, Turhan said, adding that use of coal has no cost advantage to our economy, if public health, social and environmental costs are included.
Researcher Professor Ethemcan Turhan made remarks on Turkey's increasing threats of “dependence on coal” to Doğan News Agency.
DHA: Turkey has been warned for its increasing consumption of coal. What is your opinion?
Turkey's addiction to coal escalates. Turkey ranks as the fourth in the world after China, India and Russia in construction of new coal-fired power plants. More than 90 percent of its crude oil, up to 100 percent of its natural gas and hard coal are imported.
In Turkey, providing 90 percent of its primary energy supply and 70 percent of its electricity produced from fossil fuels, nearly 30 percent of electricity generation is provided through burning coal. Turkey needs an immediate energy transformation, to avoid missing opportunities amid the new climate regime of post-2020 term.
DHA: Why do you think Turkey has concentrated on coal?
Coal prices are still relatively cheap in international markets however, only if we do not count social, public and environmental health costs.
According to a recent research conducted by Sevil Acar from Kemerburgaz University in cooperation with the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), the overall cost of direct and indirect fossil fuel subsidies in Turkey was up to 340 million dollars in Turkey, in 2013.
If these fossil fuel subsidies are abandoned, the cost of renewable energy equals to costs of coal. Moreover, if we want to limit the global warming to 1.5°C and reduce fossil fuel, the major contributor to climate change, some 80 percent of the reserves should remain underground.
DHA: How do you think this situation will affect the global fight against climate change, as well as Turkey's commitment?
Global fight against climate change has entered a fast pace course, with the Paris cimate summit. Turkey's Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), announced in October, forecasts a reduction of 21 percent in greenhouse gas emission, until 2030. However, this is not enough. According to a study conducted by Prof Erinç Yeldan and Prof Ebru Voyvoda for the Istanbul Policy Center and WWF- Turkey, Turkey should weigh in with a more ambitious approach, and the country has the means to attain a fair position in the international regime.
DHA: What are your suggestions to Turkey?
Turkey should step up by assuming a leading role, abandoning its attitude based on remaining behind silent and hiding behind its conditions. It can only be possible by adopting low-carbon based development strategies in major sectors and avoiding carbon-high pathways in its energy production. In this regard, Turkey should review plans to build more than 70 new coal-fired power plant.
“Say no to coal!” Turkey's scholars urge
A group of scholars from Turkey's leading universities have released a joint declaration inviting Turkey to “say no to coal”, announced in a press conference within the COP21, on Dec. 9.
According to the declaration, coal is the primary cause of climate change, responsible for nearly half of global greenhouse gas emissions and three-quarters of emissions produced from electricity and heat generation.
Therefore, more than 100 scholars have signed to call on government to adopt renewable energy policies, focused on low-carbon, sustainable technologies, rather than a policies dependent on energy importation.
The coal report of Istanbul Policy Center, announced in Paris this week, has also urged that coal-fired power plants have irremediable impacts on humans and the environment.