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Map of Turkey: Source CIA Factbook

This climate analysis was produced in 2009 as a contribution to an Environment and Climate Change Policy Brief prepared for the Swedish Development Agency (SIDA) by the Environmental Economics Helpdesk at the University of Gothenburg. The focus of the brief for Turkey was on the Turkey’s accession to the EU, and how this relates to environmental legislation.

Changes in Precipitation and Temperature

Two Regional Climate Models (AGCM and RegCM3 ) run for Turkey for the period 2071-2100 show similar precipitation changes for winter: a large decrease in precipitation around the southern coastal region of Turkey, particularly along the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts, and an area of large precipitation decrease extended into the lower Seyhan River Basin, blocked by the Toros Mountains to the north. Both also show increase in precipitation over the northern coastal region in Turkey facing the Black Sea for the summer season. In addition, mean monthly precipitation has been simulated using downscaled projections by MRI-GCM and by CCSR/ NIES for the 2070s . Results project that precipitation in Turkey will decrease almost throughout year, with the greatest decrease in winter. Intensity of rainfall is likely to increase, which may increase the number of flash-floods and landslides experienced.

The annual mean temperature increase for the country is estimated to be around 2-3°C for the 2070s . In winter, projected temperature increase is higher in the eastern part of the country. In the summer, this is reversed and the western part of the country, especially the Aegean region, is predicted to experience temperature increase up to 6°C. Extreme summer temperatures are likely to increase.


So far, there has only been limited assessment of potential impacts for Turkey based on future sea-level rise scenarios . However, significant impacts are expected on high-populated coastal cities, particularly in the Black Sea and Istanbul coasts, as well as on tourism and agriculture along the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts . Water availability is expected to decrease, leading to increased competition for resources amongst users, and increased demand for irrigation; for instance a study carried out in the Gediz and the Buyuk Menderes river basins along the Aegean coast has projected a lost of nearly 20% of the surface water in the studied basins by the year 2030 . Sea-level rise will exacerbate salt-water intrusion into ground water resources, increasing the vulnerability of freshwater supply for Istanbul . So far, there has been only very limited results indicating potential impacts for man-made and natural ecosystems in Turkey. According to Thuiller et al. (2005), a 3.6°C rise in global temperature could lead to a loss of over 50% of plant species in the Mediterranean mountainous region shared by Turkey. All in all, it is expected that further decreasing in precipitation may seriously damage agriculture and ecosystems in the country .

Uncertainty in attributing expansion or resurgence of diseases to climate change remains high, due to the many factors that influence disease epidemiology . Analysis of temperature records shows a correlation between higher temperatures and the number of malaria cases in Turkey, however it may be that although climatic conditions become more favourable, cases of malaria drop due to preventative public health efforts . A recent study carried out in Istanbul indicates that temperature rise and an increase in rainfall correlate to an increase in the number of leptospirosis patients . Finally, changes in climatic conditions could facilitate the reproduction of ticks in Turkey and increase the incidence of tick-born infectious diseases . One of the infectious diseases that needs further research is the fatal viral infection Crimean Congo Hemorragic Fever (CCHF), first recognized in Turkey in 2002. It is also expected that increased extreme temperatures in summer will increase heat-related mortality.

Energy, Emissions and Mitigation

Turkey’s GHG emissions rose by 75% from 170.1 Tg to 296.6 Tg CO2eq between 1990 and 2004 due to steady population growth and industrialization after the mid-1990s, however Turkey’s per capita emissions (3.29tonnes/capita) are still below the world (4.28T/capita) and OECD (10.93T/capita) and in 2004, Turkey accounted for 0.8% of the global emissions . However, with GDP projected to grow at over 6% per year over the next 15 years emissions are expected to rise significantly, increasing at 6.3% annually and reaching 604.63 million tons/year by 2020. It is estimated that demand side management (DSM) could reduce this figure by 12% .

Although most of the primary energy supply in the country comes from coal and natural gas, by 2004 Turkey managed to produce 12% from renewables (5.6% from hydro, solar, wind and geothermal, 6.3% from biomass and waste). Nevertheless, since domestic resources are not able to meet the demand, the country remains a net energy importer, with a ratio of import dependency reaching 72% in 2004 .

An effective policy for the reduction of GHG will have to rely on the application of a mix of options. With this in mind, Turkey plans to minimize GHG emissions through a combination of measures that aim at: improving energy efficiency and encouraging conservation measures (DSM); allowing for fuel switching from high carbon to low carbon fuels; and increasing the share of renewable energy sources in its energy supply. A possible measure to encourage switching to a less carbon intensive fuel is a carbon tax, although there are associated disadvantages (e.g. increase in economic cost of energy supply and import dependency). At the national level, mitigation measures with large estimated contributions by 2010 are: wide use of natural gas (4.5%), cogeneration (2.2%), and DSM (5.5%) .

The Energy Efficiency Strategy was developed and adopted in 2004, and the Ministry of Industry and Trade has recently issued a number of regulations on energy efficiency labeling standards. In addition, the exploitation of renewable sources is among Turkey’s energy policy priorities. It is hoped that the 2005 Renewable Energy Program will bring the share of wind energy and mini-hydro to nearly 13% of total power system capacity by 2025, generating 7% of total electricity. The overall share of renewables, including large hydropower and geothermal would then be over 35% by 2025 and it would account for 23% of total electricity generated in the country.

Adaptation Measures

Recognizing the potential risks related to climate change, several governmental agencies in Turkey have taken precautions. For example, to prevent/manage potential problems arising in coastal areas, the Ministry of Environment is planning to establish a Coastal Zone Department and the Authority for the Protection of Special Areas has declared new protection areas to reduce stresses on coastal zones, while developing special environmental programmes .

To offset increasing water scarcity problems and desertification, several measures have been included in the First NC: developing techniques for non-traditional use of water resources; improving and developing new plant species resistant to drought and salinity; and developing plant species that may yield quality products with low-quality water. Emphasis has also been put on research, systemic observation, and technology transfer as key measures for climate adaptation. Research will be strengthened in the following fields: climate modeling, ecological, earth and ocean system changes; tools and technologies for monitoring, preventing and mitigating environmental pressures and risks including health; conservation and sustainable management of the natural and man-made ecosystems . Training and capacity building are also critical measures to build adaptive capacity within the country. In this regard, measures to strengthen the capacity of institutions responsible for making observations on weather, climate and hydrology, monitoring climate systems, measuring air pollution and conducting climate-related research, need to be implemented.

Institutional Framework for Climate Change in Turkey

Turkey became Party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on May 2004 and the government passed a law in Feb 2009 to accede to the Kyoto Protocol, a move which although late is welcomed as a positive step . Decision 26 of the 7th Conference of the Parties in 2001 moved Turkey to being an Annex I country of the Convention, but recognizes the special circumstances of the country. The Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MoEF) is responsible for the environmental legislation and policy development in Turkey, while other Ministries are in charge of integrating environmental policy targets laid out in the Integrated National Environmental Strategy for EU Accession (UCES) within their respective sectors . Turkey submitted its first National Communication to the UNFCCC in 2007, and the process for the second NC will begin in 2009. Building on this process a National Climate Action Plan (NCCAP) is under preparation, containing new policy goals over specific time frames, concrete climate change policies, and multi-sectoral adaptation and mitigation measures. The National Development Plan (NDP) for 2007-2013 does not explicitly refer to climate change, but does show increasing integration of environmental concerns in several sectors.

The Role of Environment and Climate in Turkey’s Preparation for EU Accession

Turkey is in the process adapting legislation and regulations for accession to the EU. Not only the public sector, but also the private sector has started a series of investments that will allow Turkey to match EU and international environmental standards. For instance, the energy sector has undergone a major restructuring with liberalization of the electricity market and planned liberalization of the gas market in conformity with the EU’s Gas and Electricity Directives . Additionally, refineries are investing heavily to upgrade petroleum product standards, and energy companies are undertaking major investments in energy efficiency .

The approximation process also demands an increasing integration of climate change policy into policies governing energy, transport and water, infrastructure, land use planning, and development co-operation . The Kyoto Protocol is part of the EU’s ‘œacquis communautaire’, therefore its adoption is part of the joining process. The bill to ratify the Kyoto Protocol was submitted to the Turkish parliament on June 5, 2008, with parliament due to debate the bill early 2009. Despite the progress achieved, Turkey’s growing economy and energy demand and increasing levels of GHG emissions pose particular problems in relation to emission targets, for example it will be difficult to meet emissions reduction targets for SO2 and NOx . It is unclear what effect Turkey becoming a member of the EU would have on the EU’s targets for a 20% reduction in emissions by 2020, to be achieved by country specific reductions. If included in this target it is unlikely Turkey would be obliged to make the full 20% reduction, so other EU countries would probably have to compensate by making deeper cuts.


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