Just Transition to a Low-Carbon Future

Muğla is located in the southwest of Turkey and boasts one of Europe’s highest solar energy potential. NASA’s current studies indicate that even the northern parts of Turkey possess solar energy potential comparable to some parts of Spain, Italy, and Greece, Europe’s leading solar electricity generation centers. However, when compared to other European countries, Turkey uses only a very small fraction of its high solar potential. While Italy’s solar energy installed capacity is 20 GW, and Spain’s is over 6 GW, in Turkey the installed capacity has only recently reached 2 GW.

 

 

Again, according to NASA, maximum direct solar radiation in the southwest of the country is 7 kW/h per square meter. The only European location that can be compared is Cadiz in Southwest Spain. Furthermore, in Muğla and in the southwestern coastal regions, solar water heating is an unexceptional practice that has been used for years -providing significant savings to individual households.

 

On the other hand, the coal that is extracted and burnt in this region is low quality lignite with high levels of dust and sulfur. The extraction and burning processes of this limited and dirty resource is labor-intensive, expensive and brings about high human and environmental costs.

 

Turkey Solar Energy PotentIal Atlas

 

 

Source: www.ormansu.gov.tr

 

 

The highest solar radiation per square meter levels of this region, as well as the high annual sunshine duration, makes rooftop solar systems for houses, schools and businesses feasible. In brief, the province of Muğla and its districts possess all the necessary potential and resources to transition to a citizen-centered, low carbon future with minimum human and social costs.

 

Recent studies indicate that if the amount of subsidies provided by the state to coal-fired power plants were to be given to citizens, it would provide them with the necessary financial means to build these renewable energy systems.

 

Furthermore, the non-coal sectors of Muğla boasts a wide range of wealth and higher life quality, when approached from a different development perspective that is more just for all. They clearly point at high value-added regional development potentials. If the necessary plans and policies to phase out coal are implemented, Muğla is quite suited to the social transformation that would enable employment and development in non-coal sectors. According to the analysis of official and recent data, agriculture, aquaculture and ecotourism rank above mining as priority sectors in the short-run. Also, renewable energy, organic agriculture, ecological tourism, medicinal and aromatic plant production are high-value added sectors whose existing potentials have yet to be fully realized.

 

Budget allocation is required to make the transition to non-coal sectors just for all local communities. Another requirement is the concrete implementation of the necessary plans and to provide, around 5000 worker families in Muğla region, who are a part of the workforce in coal mines and coal power plants, with necessary rehabilitation and training for jobs that have higher value-added than those in the coal sector.

Access to Information/Transparency

The real extent of the pollution (total pollution load) that has accumulated in the last years in this region is unknown. The periodic monitoring and control of the environmental performance indicators of the coal mine and coal power plants is a duty of the supervising state institutions. Furthermore, even though access to monitoring and control reports is a legal right, citizens’ access to this information is very limited, which prevents seeing the burden on nature and the human cost in its entirety.

 

Official data on health, as with environmental data, cannot be accessed even through freedom of information requests. Furthermore, the public health monitoring studies for this region, which is highly affected by industrial pollution, are insufficient.

 

Dozens of freedom of information requests regarding pollutants emitted by the three coal power plants in Muğla, and the related mines and other sources, were filed numerous times to authorized and supervising bodies within the framework of THE REAL COSTS OF COAL research. Most of the requests remained unanswered on the grounds that they were “trade secrets/information” because the power plants and their coal production facilities were privatized. The few replies that were received provided partial data and lacked explanation on the reliability of the data.

 

Public access to industrial facilities’ periodically recorded, reliable pollution data is a right - particularly the local residents and public health specialists’ access is fundamental. Access to data and transparency regarding coal-fired power plants need to be provided by public authorities, in order to reveal health and environmental costs in an undisputed manner.

Recognition of Coal’s Lifetime Impacts

Measuring the lifetime impacts of coal, from the moment it is extracted, burnt and produces waste, reveals a more realistic extent of the true costs. However, during the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) and project review stages, the impacts of coal mines and other polluting sources are ignored. The necessary data for the calculation of these impacts, kept by ministries and other local and national decision making bodies, are not shared with the public. It is necessary to adopt an approach that accepts the resource’s lifetime impacts in order to perform a factual coal power plant impact assessment. This requires first and foremost using a holistic approach by including facilities that provide coal to power plants, as well as waste disposal facilities, to the EIA processes of coal-fired power plants.

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Source: www.ormansu.gov.tr