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Turkey’s climate opportunities and challenges


Turkey’s recent climate policy shift represents the beginning of a long transformation required to create a carbon neutral economy.

In October 2021, the Turkish government announced a U-turn in its climate policy. Having joined the Paris Agreement last year, after years of tactical delay, the government announced a series of climate policies, from an unexpected 2053 carbon neutrality target, alongside a national Green Development Initiative, to the development of a National Green Finance Strategy by the end of 2023.

This policy shift has been driven by a number of changes in Turkey’s economic and political landscape. Firstly, Ankara has attempted to position itself better in order to access growing climate finance flows, and a promise made by the World Bank, and a number of European development banks, to Turkey to provide climate finance if Turkey joins the Paris Agreement has been pivotal.

In addition, the introduction of the European Union’s Fit for 55 legislative package, which includes a proposal for a carbon tariff on imports known as the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, has been crucial too as it has created significant concern among the Turkish business community regarding sectors most exposed to the tariffs such as the iron, steel and aluminium industries.

Meanwhile, political changes have included the shifting tide towards accelerated climate action around the world with the United States rejoining the Paris Agreement in 2021. Although the US’s return to the climate table, and President Joe Biden’s agenda to lead global climate action, have been drivers in their own right, Ankara’s attempts to restore its relationship with Washington has also played a significant role.

Turkish public opinion, too, has appeared to have played a role. According to a survey conducted by the German Marshall Fund in 2021, public sensitivity to the climate has been increasing, especially among young people. Indeed, before the Paris Agreement was ratified in 2021, more than 70 per cent of Turkish young people surveyed supported ratification.

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