Turkey: moving towards climate-friendly development
Ten years ago, only a dozen Turkish Government officials worked on climate change issues. Today, over 300 officials work in the field, and national policies exist to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
This transformation is part of broad efforts by UNDP to increase awareness of climate change issues in Turkey and help build national capacities for mitigation and adaptation.
“We cooperate with UNDP on many fronts,” says Muhammed Ecel, head of the Climate Change Department in the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization. “UNDP is an indispensable UN agency.”
- 300 professionals in the Government working on climate change.
- New national legislation for registering carbon projects.
- 30 percent target for renewable energy as a share of total electricity generation by 2023.
Advancing the agenda
From 1990 to 2006, Turkey’s carbon dioxide emissions nearly doubled. Turkish official grew wary of the dangers this posed – Turkey’s location on the Mediterranean makes it vulnerable to coastal erosion, flooding, frequent droughts, and land degradation.
In 2004, Turkey became a party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and in 2009 it signed the Kyoto Protocol - a global agreement with legally binding targets to control carbon dioxide emissions. With limited experience on climate change, the Turkish Government turned to UNDP for support on key issues.
UNDP reached out to people in the government, non-governmental, business and academic worlds, offering briefing sessions on emissions measurement, mitigation cycles and the scope of international climate change negotiations.
It also coordinated efforts to produce a National Communication – the necessary document for all parties to the UN Framework Convention that details local emissions trends and proposed steps towards meeting the Convention’s goals. 20 institutions and 100 experts from fields such as climate, energy, industry, agriculture, economy and governance contributed to the document.
Progress on climate change policy subsequently accelerated. In 2009 Turkey completed a National Climate Change Strategy, and it has embarked on renewable energy projects. The government provides incentives to the industrial sector to encourage “climate-friendly” technologies, and has involved private businesses in the adaptation efforts - an estimated 80 percent of investments in energy efficiency and emissions reductions will need to come from businesses and consumers.
Turkey is now preparing its second National Communication, and creating a national Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. With support from the MDG F, UNDP and other UN agencies and government partners have helped coordinate consultations to draft the strategy, and encouraged community-based adaptation initiatives. In the Seyhan River Basin, a UN Joint Programme funded by Spain supported 18 pilot projects to show communities how they can adjust their water use, forestry, fishing, animal husbandry and public health practices to climate realities.
Local communities now better understand the vulnerabilities they face and how to cope with them. In the Seyhan Valley, which sits 1,500 metres above sea level, farmers are growing new crops that previously could not thrive in the region.
“We are adapting,” says Özhan Sönmez, head of the Irrigation Union of the villages of Karaboğaz, Kılıçmehmet and Büyükpotuklu . “We have to adapt to the changes being brought by the new climate.”