Towards a Greener and More Resilient Türkiye

Wildfire in the forest near a resort in Marmaris, Türkiye

Wildfire in the forest near a resort in Marmaris, Türkiye 

Sergey Kamshylin/ Shutterstock

The Climate Challenge

Like most Mediterranean countries, Türkiye is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. In recent decades, flooding, heatwaves, droughts, wildfires, landslides and extreme windstorms have affected the country with increasing frequency and intensity.

The year 2021 was particularly devastating for Türkiye. The country was hit by the heaviest rains and wildfires in centuries which killed people, destroyed infrastructures and forced emergency evacuations. The outbreak of sea mucilage, also believed to be the biggest in history, choked sea life, damaged the tourism and fishing industry, and threatened to impede the only shipping access to the Black Sea. Climate change also reduces the availability of water. Under current trends, the country is projected to become water scarce by 2030—potentially raising concerns over agricultural yields, rural livelihoods, jobs along value chains, food prices, and food security for vulnerable people.

A Strong Partnership Backed by a Strong Commitment

In October 2021, Türkiye ratified the Paris Agreement on climate and pledged to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2053.

To support Türkiye’s climate action, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Türkiye, the World Bank, France, Germany, the UN, IFC and the EBRD.  The MoU provides a framework for the World Bank and other signatories to provide technical assistance and additional development financing of $3.2 billion and to help mobilize private finance for projects supporting Türkiye’s enhanced nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and Long-Term Strategy (LTS) towards achieving carbon neutrality by 2053.

Under the terms of the MoU, the World Bank stands ready to step up its climate financing to Türkiye with a proposed additional $2 billion over the next two years.

Benefits of Decarbonization

Türkiye is the world’s 17th largest carbon emitter. While the country’s emissions per capita and per unit of GDP remain below the OECD average, total emissions have been increasing sharply over the past decade. While there is consensus that in order to support the country’s growth process and create a more prosperous society there is a need for continuous supply of energy, there are clear opportunities to transition toward a greener economic model which achieves both objectives of generating economic prosperity and mitigate climate change and its impacts.  The economic, social and environmental benefits far outweigh the challenges of the green transition. Here are some highlights:

  • Economic: With the EU representing over 40% of Türkiye’s export markets, decarbonization will help protect export markets in the face of the EU Green Deal’s proposed Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism. Reducing carbon intensity will also boost Turkish ability to attract foreign investment and to participate in global value chains that are likely to evolve toward greener concepts.
  • Social: Poor households in Türkiye bear the brunt of extreme weather events and increased water scarcity. Well-designed green policies can improve innovation and upskilling can be an opportunity to build human capital. This can have significant impacts on reducing poverty and boosting shared prosperity.
  • Environmental: Action to decarbonize the economy can reduce air pollution associated with the burning of fuels. Actions to address climate change can also improve natural landscapes, such as reforestation to enhance carbon sequestration which can have important benefits for biodiversity.

A People-Centered Green Transition

Coal is the source of 35% of electricity generation in Türkiye. Beyond coal, multiple carbon intensive sectors are likely to be affected by decarbonization, including steel, cement, aluminum, manufacturing, textile, and agri-food, and will have to embrace new technologies or adjust in different ways.

The World Bank is ready to work with Türkiye to develop a Just Transition program aimed at maximizing the social and economic benefits of the green transition. The program would support workers and communities that may be adversely affected by the transition by facilitating the development of new skills through vocational training; incentivizing entrepreneurship capabilities and adoption of greener technologies and practices by small and medium enterprises; and promoting inclusive finance and economic participation of women and youth.

Opportunities Await

Importantly, the climate transition may only be the beginning of a deeper transformation towards a more circular economy—based on zero waste, better design of products, recycling, and efficiency of all resources and materials, beyond just carbon. Moving towards a more circular economy may help Türkiye create new jobs, engage in global value chains, lead technological innovation, and stimulate private investments, especially in view of the EU Green Deal given the importance of trade with EU. We see opportunities for Türkiye to expand access to premium markets and boost exports by embracing emerging good practices such as the Sustainable Products Initiative and Farm-to-Fork Policy.

In short, the World Bank believes that going green is a good business strategy for Türkiye, and the more decisively Türkiye engages the higher the benefits will be.