Climate Change is Expected to Result in Declines in Agriculture, Industry, and Tourism in Turkey

Changes in the climate may differ from region to region in the world. Regional changes could differ from the global trend as well. If we compare the change in temperature in Turkey with that of the globe, we can see some important differences. We find that the recent increasing temperature trends in Turkey start after 1990 while global warming trends seem to begin before the 1980s. Despite the delayed temperature increase in Turkey’s climate, the increase is already larger than the global average for the same period.

Studies show that globally the increase in temperature in the next half century will continue. Turkey, which is already affected, seems to suffer more from this change base (see Exhibit above). For Turkey, this means a decline in agriculture, industry, tourism, and many other sectors with substantial economic and social impact.

However, changing soil structure, ecosystems, and the disappearance of species will be even more painful for the country. Turkey, which has lands suitable for agriculture, already has basins that are starting to dry out. In addition to this, early warning signals for decreasing water resources have already started. Furthermore, there has been a dangerous shift in rainfalls causing major destruction, snowy winters have also shifted with little to no snow affecting water levels in dams and causing a scarcity in power generation (hydroelectric power stations) and irrigation. The deteriorated ecosystem will also create an environment for diseases that do not exist today. Moreover, people will start to struggle for these diminishing resources, and although it seems a remote possibility, clashes and physical fights could be experienced

According to recent research studies, if global warming continues at the same pace, temperatures in western Turkey will rise 5 to 6°C in summer, and 3 to 4°C in the Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Anatolia regions. In Winter, temperatures will rise 2°C to 3°C. In the Black Sea Region, precipitation will increase by 10 to 20%, and decrease by up to 30% in the south. It is predicted that there will be a rapid increase in temperature increase towards the end of the 2030s probably surpassing the global increase rates before 2050.

All these events will likely bring along a serious decrease in Turkey’s water resources, drought and desertification, loss of agricultural productivity, an increase in the number and impact of forest fires, and loss of biodiversity. Turkey used to be one of the few self-sufficient food-producing countries in the world. However, with the changes in climate agricultural production has been severely affected in recent years.

Tourism has been one of the major foreign exchange revenue sources for the country, with an annual of 30-50 Billion USD.  With changing climate, the tourism infrastructure will not be adequate to cater to this industry as Turkey might shift from the Mediterranean to a Saharan climate.

Turkey is also heavily dependent on external sources and suppliers for energy. Increasing temperatures, particularly in summer seasons, will increase the energy needed for air conditioning mainly in touristic regions, adversely affecting the country’s balance of payments which already is running a huge deficit.

Investments in water reservoirs and big dams are continuing to decrease the effect of expected drought in the coming years. Renewable energy investments are being heavily incentivized to reduce emissions. Despite all the efforts of the central Government, public awareness needs to be increased in order to have Turkish citizens take greater action to reduce the adverse effects climate change is having on the country, the economy, and society.

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Turkey Country Manager Dr. Semih Ergur


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