COVID-19 has had worldwide consequences, both as an outbreak and in terms of the globalized world economy. According to the World Bank, the global economy will shrink by 5% and GDP per capita by 6.2% due to the pandemic. For Turkey, which is already in an economic crisis, the situation is even more critical. According to the daily economy newspaper, Dünya, growth forecasts in the 9 critical sectors in Turkey are either zero or negative, which is in most cases. The tourism and accommodation sectors, construction and real estate, and the industrial products sectors are expected to shrink by more than 20% this year.
Mass unemployment caused by the crisis which was itself aggravated by the pandemic further enlarges the contraction in demand. According to the report prepared using the methods of ILO by the trade union confederation DISK, there are 17.7 million unemployed people (28.7%) in Turkey’s available workforce and 10.7 million of them lost their jobs in the last 4 months. The demand contraction in Europe, which is the main sales market of Turkey’s mainly export-oriented industrial production, the inability to fill the capacity of the tourism sector in the summer period due to the outbreak, the depreciation of the financial balloon in the construction sector, and the debt level of the construction companies are all challenging Turkey’s economy to take emergency steps.
According to Turkey’s recently announced 2018 data, 72.8% of the 520.9 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions per year is from energy, 12.6% is from industrial processes and product use, 11.4% is from agriculture and 3.3% is from waste management. Almost all emissions from energy come from fuel combustion. 41% of the fuel combustion emissions occur in power plants, 23% in transportation, 19% in other sectors, and 17% in manufacturing and construction. However, Turkey’s state institution on this issue, TUIK (Turkish Statistical Institute) data on emissions and sinks resulting from land-use change and deforestation does not take place. In the annual emission of 50.61 billion tons of CO2 equivalent in the world, construction activities have 28%, transportation 23%, concrete-steel-aluminum industry 22.7%, industrial sector 20.3% and other sectors 6% of their shares.
With the correct support and incentives of the state, it is possible to reduce the environmental impacts of these sectors with the highest carbon emission and which are at the same time affected by the pandemic most, as the exit plans from the economic crisis or the bailouts are announced each day for these sectors.
For example, in the industrial sector, providing energy from renewable energy that has a competitive cost with fossil fuels now, primarily wind and sun, without destructive effects on ecosystems will be an ecological and efficient recovery step. This step will both reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and provide new employment with the new investments.
Distribution of the empty houses, which has turned into a financial instrument as the main product of the construction sector, which represents 6.6% of the GDP of Turkey, to the people in need of housing by the state while the cost of housing is met with the carbon tax that can be collected from companies operating in both the construction and energy sectors can prevent bankruptcy of the critical companies and emissions from new housing construction.
The construction industry should also focus on insulation and electrification of heating devices that will increase the energy efficiency of buildings. This will both increase new investments under the current crisis conditions and reduce carbon emissions. Large-scale renovation projects should be developed in existing housing for carbon-free buildings that consume nearly zero energy. Turkey has already started taking measures in this direction with the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan. By developing these measures, Turkey can bring its policy framework closer to a path that complies with the Paris Agreement.
24 municipalities that came together at the “Cities for Climate Workshop” announced that they signed the “We Are for Climate” declaration. According to the declaration, renewable energy and ecological farming practices will be implemented in these cities. The extra carbon emission that will occur as a result of more industrial applications due to the increased costs caused by the pandemic in the agricultural sector can be reduced by such practices of local authorities. Local production and consumption networks will also reduce emissions from transportation.
In the tourism and accommodation sector, energy efficiency must be placed as a necessary condition in the recovery incentives, and the use of renewable energy in the facilities of the sector’s shareholders must be stipulated for the carbon emission resulting from the flight of foreign tourists. Moreover, domestic tourism should be promoted instead of international tourism, which is already in decline with the outbreak. In this sector that provides seasonal employment, workers should be provided with job security for the off-season.
Activity Rating: ** Standing Still
Turkey is faced with the outbreak in an economic crisis. This will increase the rate and length of recession in the economy, resulting in a reduction in carbon emissions spontaneously. Although Turkey has turned its face to hydropower, wind and solar in the energy sector, in recent years. This tendency has remained constant during the pandemic. However, there has been no reduction in the absolute use of fossil fuel resources. In each of the sectors, energy, construction, tourism and agriculture, Turkey has focused more on the measures to prevent the bankruptcy of the companies, but measures against the climate crisis did not enter into the agenda of these sectors with a higher significance than before the pandemic.
Dear Mr. Albayrak,
As Turkey’s economy is dodging the damages of the COVID-19 pandemic, steps taken to transform the damaged sectors with high carbon emissions will take Turkey closer to the targets set in the Paris Climate Agreement. Turkey is among the few countries in the world that did not ratify the Agreement. An update in Turkey’s 11th Development Plan covering the period 2019-2023 in accordance with both this climatic transformation initiatives and the Paris Agreement is a historical opportunity to gain economically in the long term.
Setting policies to reduce carbon emissions in the energy, construction, tourism and agriculture sectors that have high pressure on natural ecosystems is now beneficial not only for the majority of the public but also for companies in the sectors. Having great potential in renewable energy planned in such a way as not to cause a destruction in nature, Turkey needs to prepare legislation to provide for the energy transformation of the sectors affected by the pandemic.
- C. Ministry of Treasury and Finance, Emek Campus
Emek Mahallesi, İsmet İnönü Bulvarı, PK: 06490 Çankaya/ANKARA
+90 (312) 204-60 00
This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Turkey Country Managers Onur Yilmaz and Cansu Yetisgin