Türkiye's climate transformation amidst uncertainty

By Energy Connects

Nov 28, 2023

Nigar Gokmen, Partner and Head of Energy, Mining & Infrastructure, Projects and Real Estate at Esin Attorney Partnership, member firm of Baker & McKenzie International, a Swiss Verein addresses Türkiye's climate transformation and the multiple challenges in its journey towards net-zero emissions.

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As the world anticipates the pivotal COP28 in Dubai, the Global Stocktake emerges as a crucial moment. This assessment of progress against greenhouse gas reduction targets will not only shape decisions at COP28 but also serve as a vital pulse check for global efforts towards achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

Türkiye, among the nations making actionable steps, recently reinforced its commitment with its proposed Climate Law, signaling a determined march towards net zero emissions. However, the path ahead will hold multiple challenges, demanding continued commitment, collaboration and adaptability in the face of economic shifts, technological disruption and geopolitical tensions.

Strategic steps

Türkiye's active participation as a party to the Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement demonstrates its efforts to contribute in the fight against climate change. The government declared a strategy to reduce carbon emissions by 55% by 2030 and prioritized climate change in its 2021-2023New Economic Program and 2023 Presidential Annual Program.

With abundant renewable energy resources, especially solar and wind, Türkiye strategically focuses on renewable energy-based electricity generation to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Incentives and support mechanisms play an important role in increasing the share of clean energy. Key drivers, such as the renewable energy resources support mechanism and renewable energy resource area projects, provide state purchase guarantees for investors of 10 or 15 years respectively, facilitating renewable energy-based electricity generation for over a decade now. Recently, new rights and increased capacities to license-exempt generation facilities have been provided as well as opportunities for establishing electricity storage facilities. A cornerstone in Türkiye's climate agenda is the planned launch of emission tracking and trading systems in 2024, set to further encourage clean energy usage and reduce GHG emissions.

Nigar Gokmen Web

Nigar Gokmen, Partner and Head of Energy, Mining & Infrastructure, Projects and Real Estate at Esin Attorney Partnership, member firm of Baker & McKenzie International, a Swiss Verein

Türkiye's climate commitment on the global stage

In an era where global collaboration is crucial to make progress, Türkiye recently updated its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) in 2023. While not in line with the 1.5°C pathway, Türkiye's focus on renewable energy stands out as the share of electricity generation from renewable energy has more than tripled since 2015.

Also Türkiye's emphasis on its Green Deal Action Plan is an important step to align with the EU's policy trajectory. Despite its 2023 National Inventory Report indicating an increase in total GHG emissions, total GHG emissions, including the land use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector were 517.2 Mt CO2 eq. in 2021, a notable decrease by 10.7% from 2020. These figures show the impact a single country can have,  an imperative if we want to achieve substantial emissions reduction by 2030 to achieve 1.5°C compatibility.

Navigating challenges: a call for global collaboration

Yet as with many countries, also Türkiye faces different hurdles in its journey towards net-zero emissions, including the economic challenge of reducing GHG emissions, balancing the increase in energy demand with a transition away from fossil fuels, but also slow progress in technological transition and adaptation of industries as well as global geopolitical tensions.

Türkiye is trying to overcome these hurdles. For one, it's leveraging its renewable energy resources. By increasing the share of electricity generation from renewable energy, it is paving the way for investments in such projects through incentives, support and new opportunities. Türkiye is also trying to reduce its dependency on fossil fuels by developing its critical infrastructure and strengthening its electricity grid. This would enable Türkiye to electrify industries and support the necessary technological transition and adaptation of industries.

Its strategic position between Europe and Asia makes Türkiye an important conduit between different countries and regions. The challenges a country like Türkiye faces hence reveal the interconnectedness of climate action and demonstrate that joint global efforts are required to take progress forward. Unless all countries bolster their efforts to combat climate change, achieving the ambitious targets would be even harder.

With COP28 at a critical juncture and the Global Stocktake to reveal how much progress we have made, the imperative for collective action is clear. Türkiye's commitment to taking steps underscores the urgency and global responsibility required to turn climate ambitions into impactful actions on the world stage. This isn't just another global conference; it represents a milestone in the shared endeavor for a sustainable future.

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