Just last year, when the coronavirus pandemic prevailed intensely, the world almost stopped; however, it was a time when Turkey’s renewable energy investments increased substantially. In 2020, the country commissioned more than 7,000 megawatts of additional installed power. It obtained 98% of this additional power from environmentally and climate-friendly renewable resources. It obtained the remaining 2% from cogeneration, which is a good application of efficiency. In the same year, it ranked second in the world, after China, in the investments it made in HPPs.
All these developments point to the existence of strong potential on the way to 2053. The world's largest solar power plant investment, which was also built on a single parcel, is one of the good examples of Turkey’s determination in this direction.
With the generation of electricity from renewable sources, the country prevented the generation of emissions corresponding to at least 7% of the national greenhouse gas emissions on an annual basis. However, Ankara’s goal is bigger. Therefore, in the upcoming period, the sun will be brighter and the wind will blow harder.
The pricing of carbon, which is one of the most effective methods of reducing greenhouse gases, is also one of the issues the government works on and gives priority to. It has started establishing the infrastructure of the Emissions Trading System, which rewards the facilities that invest in clean production technologies where climate-friendly investments will be supported, and will be implemented in the near future.
Turkey increases resource efficiency with its clean production, environmental label, and the Zero Waste Project that it has started in the industry, and it is working towards the transition to the circular economy model, which makes its growth independent from the source. In this respect, Turkey will soon complete and implement a circular economy action plan. With the Zero Waste Project, the country has become one of the few countries in the world that have implemented environmental sensitivity and the life cycle phenomena.
Turkey will prevent waste generation by recycling its waste instead of burying it. Only in the last three years, it has increased its recovery rate by nine points within the scope of its zero waste vision. With the support of applications such as the deposit return system, it aims to increase this value to 60% in 2035 and end waste storage after 2050.
It develops mechanisms that will use its water, which it values every drop, more effectively. As well as building underground dams that prevent evaporation, as well as smart irrigation techniques. By purifying the wastewater generated, Turkey protects its sea and other receiving environments, which provide one of every two breaths we take, and the country extends the life of its natural water resources by reusing treated wastewater.
Another issue the government cares about is the buildings. With smart city applications, Ankara ensures that resources are used more effectively and appropriately. By paving the way for energy efficiency, waste management, gray water and rainwater harvesting, and buildings producing their own energy on roofs, Turkey saves space in both environmentally friendly transformation and energy production. In order for its cities to breathe, the government builds Nation's Gardens in each province, and gives a lifeline to biological diversity with ecological corridors.
One of the important emission sources is the transportation sector. With the motto of "zero emission-zero pollution," Turkey has set a target of 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) of bicycle and 3,000 kilometers of walking paths, and it is taking firm steps to reach this target. In 2020, which passed in the shadow of the pandemic when personal transportation was highly popular, Turkey put the world's longest single-track bicycle path into the service of its nation and guest nations in the southern province of Hatay. The country has created the legal infrastructure for the safe operation of electric scooters in traffic, which is an environmentally, climate, and air-friendly vehicle, and which is also symbolized by individual transportation and is increasing day by day.
Another area that the government values is the carbon sinks. These are important areas where it needs to increase the amount as well as protect the existing. Because they perform an important function in balancing carbon emissions. With this idea, the country has become one of the rare countries that have increased its forest wealth, and it has increased its forest assets equivalent to the size of Wales, with over 5.1 billion new saplings it planted in the last 20 years. When we take the last five-year period as a basis in terms of afforestation activities, Turkey ranked first in Europe and sixth in the world. The country has declared Nov. 11 as “National Forestation Day.”
Potential for future
We need every living creature to maintain the delicate balance that exists in our world. In this respect, it is of great importance to protect the diversity and continuation of the species. Turkey, which is the transition point of the three mainlands of Asia, Europe and Africa, has a great richness of biodiversity. The damage to biodiversity brings with it all kinds of environmental and climatic disasters. Turkey conducts scientific research to protect its biological diversity.
By increasing its protected area size to 11%, the country saved all its living and non-living assets, and rivers from the danger of pollution and extinction. Only in the last two years, it has increased the number of protected areas by taking under protection an area of 10,000 square kilometers, which is seven times that of London and two times that of Istanbul. Declaring the Marmara Sea and the Princes' Islands region, with an area of 11,000 square kilometers and a coastline of seven cities, as a “Special Environmental Protection Area,” within the scope of the Action Plan for the Protection of the Marmara Sea that the government developed after the sea problems in Marmara, is a sign of its sincerity and determination.
This environment, nature and planet belong to all of us. It's not just ours though, it's the common living space of all species. The health of all humans, plants and animals interact with each other in the environment. The healthier our nature is, the healthier we will be. The healthier our planet is, the healthier the species will be. That's why the government supports the only health phenomenon.
We all have a responsibility to protect the natural balance of the environment and to prevent the formation of pollution. Therefore, we need ecocentric (environmentally oriented) thinking, instead of an egocentric (self-centered) approach. We must accelerate the transition from a disposable culture to circular economy models that envisage more efficient and effective use of resources. Because we know that if the current consumption pattern continues, the temperature increase is expected to be between three and six degrees at the end of the century, which means a complete disaster. As a result, the disasters we are currently experiencing, the number and effects of which are increasing, are only the results of a 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.16 degrees Fahrenheit) temperature increase.
Turkey did not pollute this world. However, it will not allow it to remain dirty. As the honorable Mevlana Jalaladdin Rumi said, "we need people who set an example, not someone who will give advice." We want to act with such awareness.
Turkey, which has never remained silent about global issues throughout history, is ready to fulfill its duties within its means and capabilities. It will do its best to limit the temperature increase seen on our planet to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The country has a carbon-neutral target of 2053. Undoubtedly, it will need a new and powerful road map to achieve this goal. In this respect, the climate council that brings together all relevant parties from academia, industry, transportation, agriculture, public institutions and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), is a good example.
Turkey has great potential in the fight against climate change. In this vein, the country is launching the green development revolution. As a first step, it will update its nationally determined contribution statement.