Turkey could be coal free by 2030 if fossil fuel companies are made financially responsible for their externalities in line with the “polluter pays” principle, and if the government ends coal subsidies, according to a new report from a group of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on Nov. 2.
A coal exit by 2030 in Turkey could ensure an 82.8% decrease in carbon emissions from the power sector between 2021 and 2035, leaving emissions at 27.6 million tons of CO2 level by 2035, the report, First Step in the Pathway to a Carbon Neutral Turkey: Coal Phase out 2030, said.
This would mark a massive decline in Turkey’s power sector emissions, which are estimated this year to be around 160 million tons of CO2.
The report, prepared by Europe Beyond Coal, Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, Sustainable Economics and Finance Research Association (SEFiA), WWF-Turkey (World Wildlife Fund), Greenpeace Mediterranean, 350.org and Climate Change Policy and Research Association, stipulated that income from a carbon pricing mechanism, combined with savings from canceling coal subsidies, would provide finance to facilitate an equitable, just transition for Turkey’s coal industry this decade.
“Currently no coal plant or mine owner in Turkey bears any of the health, pollution, or climate costs created by their operations, and their polluting businesses further benefit through purchase guarantees and capacity mechanisms,”the report underlined.
It asserted that when power plant operators are required to bear the costs of coal’s externalities, coal electricity generation will become uneconomic, meaning that market forces alone will lead to a 2029 domestic coal exit.
Scenarios focus on carbon neutrality target
Under the report’s coal phase out scenario, which foresees a coal exit by 2030, carbon emissions from the power sector would decrease by 82.8% between 2021 and 2035, leaving emissions at 27.6 million tons of CO2 by 2035.
In comparison, the business as usual scenario shows that it will be very hard to reach Turkey’s 2053 carbon neutral target if coal stays a part of its energy mix.
The NGOs in the report argue that a focus on a coal phase out in favor of building up renewable energy generation to 73.6% would address high electricity prices that make energy security and energy independence especially vital.
“A coal phase out and just transition to renewable energy can be achieved with an increase in annual spending of only 0.5% of Turkey’s gross domestic product until 2029, which equates to €24 billion over the period,” the report read.
However, it recommended that a coal phase out should include a just transition mechanism that creates new local economic opportunities and an inclusive and fair transition for those living in coal regions.