Environmental issues in Turkey
Turkey hosts more than three thousand endemic plant species, has high diversity of other taxa, and is almost entirely covered by three of the world's thirty-five biodiversity hotspots. Although some environmental pressures have been decoupled from economic growth the environment still faces many threats, such as coal and diesel fuel emitting greenhouse gases and deadly fine particulate air pollution. As of 2019[update] there is no fine particulate limit and coal in Turkey is subsidized.
Conservation of biodiversity
The wildlife of Turkey is diverse, due to its wide variety of habitats and unique position between three continents and three seas. "Ill-considered development projects are threatening biodiversity, but a new wildlife corridor offers hope for further conservation progress." Turkish montane forests face major threats to their genetic diversity associated with over-exploitation, forest fragmentation, air pollution, and global climatic change.
Air pollution is particularly significant in urban areas; the problem is especially acute in Istanbul, Ankara, Erzurum, and Bursa, where the combustion of heating fuels increases particulate density in winter. Almost all the urban population is exposed to particulate matter emissions higher than the EU and World Health Organization limits. Especially in Istanbul, increased car ownership causes frequent urban smog conditions. "Air pollution in urban centers, often caused by transport, and the use of small-scale burning of wood or coal, is linked to a range of health problems." "PM10 levels are 36.7 micrograms per cubic meter, much higher than the OECD average of 20.9 micrograms per cubic meter, and the annual guideline limit of 20 micrograms per cubic meter set by the World Health Organization." Although there is some monitoring of air pollution compared with other European countries, many air pollution indicators are not available. Regulations in Turkey do not contain any restrictions on the pollutant PM 2.5, which causes lung diseases. Greenpeace Mediterranean claim that the Afşin-Elbistan coal-fired plant is the power plant with the highest health risk in Europe, followed by the Soma coal-fired power plant, also from Turkey.
Land degradation is a critical agricultural problem, caused by inappropriate use of agricultural land, overgrazing, or over-fertilization,. Serious soil erosion has occurred in 69% of Turkey’s land surface. A national soil information system is being developed as presently 'it is difficult to assess the levels of land degradation, desertification or soil contamination'.
Green space in cities
Former military land in cities may be rezoned for housing.
Laws and regulations
The first Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control permits are expected to be issued in 2024, to use best available techniques but to use the least stringent emission levels (of those specified in EU 2017-1442).
Environmental issues are becoming more politically sensitive. Changes in the law on environmental impact assessments are being considered which will permit mining investments without waiting for environmental impact assessments. The EU has asked for "a stronger political commitment". In 2019 Turkey was one of five countries which voted against the proposed UN Global Pact for the Environment.
Ecotaxes on gasoline, diesel fuel and vehicles cover the social cost of carbon from the road transport sector, however being nationwide they are not designed to cover the negative externality of health costs due to local air pollution in cities.
Turkey continues to provide substantial environmentally harmful subsidies, such as subsidies for poor families to use coal for heating.
- Water supply and sanitation in Turkey
- Polluting Paradise, a 2012 documentary film about the village of Çamburnu, which has been turned into a rubbish dump by the government
- 2013 protests in Turkey, which were sparked by environmental issues
- TEMA Foundation, an environmental organisation
- Biodiversity in Turkey
- Convention on Biological Diversity
- "Çevre Kuruluşları Dayanışma Derneği" environmental organization
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- OECD (2019), page 3
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- OECD (2019), page 94
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A stronger political commitment would help to accelerate the alignment with and implementation of the acquis, as well as coordination and cooperation between relevant authorities at all levels.
- "U.S. One of Five Countries to Oppose UN Environment Pact". EcoWatch. 2018-05-11. Retrieved 2019-06-17.
- "Effective Carbon Rates 2018". OECD. 18 September 2018.
- OECD (2019), executive summary
- OECD (2019), executive summary