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It is an online inventory of environmental conflicts all around the world, documenting environmental justice movements against particular economic activities on a map, aiming to make mobilisation more visible. It also highlights EJ claims and serves as a space for activists to receive information and connect with other activists working on similar issues Temper et al. The map is the primary output of a large-scale research initiative called EJOLT 1 Environmental Justice Organisations, Liabilities, and Trade , aiming at improving the understanding of ecological distribution conflicts in the world, by conducting engaged research with the people struggling in those conflicts Temper et al.

The EJAtlas maps the worldwide ecological distribution conflicts through a bottom-up methodology, using data and knowledge co-produced by activists and academics Martinez-Alier, ; Temper and Del Bene, It utilises previous mapping and data collecting initiatives about ecological conflicts and environmental justice movements. It is apparent that the activity of mapping is a critical tool for activists to present their collectively created knowledge and information in a systematic way. It helps them to inform the public and the media about the facts, and to force the policy makers to act in favour of EJ.

The participatory nature of the mapping process is not only a methodological practice, but also a political necessity to create more legitimacy for the collected data, as the contributors are actual people and communities Bryan, The database divides conflicts into 10 main categories, around 50 sub-categories. Conflicts can be filtered according to category, commodity, EJ Success, project status, conflict intensity, companies, EJ Organisations, and around other fields Martinez-Alier et al.

To date, many scholars made use of the atlas to better understand the nature and dynamics of the ecological distribution conflicts see, for instance, Aydin et al. Similar to the global pattern, Turkey has witnessed a growing number of environmental conflicts for the last three decades, following the aggressive neo-liberal policies of modernisation and industrialisation.

Such policies were contested by the public at large through environmental mobilisations against mines, dams, thermal and nuclear power plants, and waste disposal. In an attempt to document these mobilisations, the Turkish Map of Environmental Justice was compiled, parallel to the compilation of the Global Environmental Justice Atlas.

This study will make use of the Turkish Map of Environmental Justice to lay out the current situation of the environmental distribution conflicts in the country, followed by a short account of environmental governance in Turkey. It will argue that the policy decisions regarding the electricity production are made in a non-transparent and top-down manner, excluding many local and national stakeholders, and such lack of participation and transparency causes a strong reaction from a rather active civil society at both national and local scales.

To better understand the nature of these conflicts, a short summary of the energy related conflicts will be provided through mapping of the distribution of different electricity projects in Turkey, to open a pathway for discussing the cross-scale and inter-regional unequal exchange in Turkey.


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The growth in material and energy flows of the economies and societies create important environmental impacts, igniting environmental justice movements against dams, thermal and nuclear energy plants, mines, industrial fishing, and waste disposal all around the world Martinez-Alier, Similar to the global pattern, Turkey has witnessed a growing number of environmental conflicts since s. As a result, several important biodiversity hotspots of global significance in the country are under pressure of degradation and many endemic species face extinction due to the increasingly aggressive policies of modernisation and industrialisation of the country Paker et al.

More recently, there are mega-projects, which have been heavily contested by the civil society. One of the emblematic and recent examples of the environmental justice movements in Turkey is the Gezi Park demonstrations, which took place in June and generated widespread interest and coverage both nationally and internationally. The people in Istanbul did not need yet another shopping mall or a luxury hotel; instead, they wanted to preserve what was left from the last green space in the old and vibrant neighbourhood of Taksim.

Indeed, claims of the Gezi Park protestors seemed straightforward and in line with the global environmental justice movement Schlosberg, In an attempt to document such environmental mobilisations around the country, the Turkish Map of Environmental Justice has been compiled as reported by local activists and scholars 3 , documenting more than conflicts in eleven categories, as shown in the Figure 1. The compilation of these cases provides a basic, yet an important step toward informing public debate in Turkey over the environmental justice movements ignited due to the conflicts between development and environment.

The map can serve as an important tool where, with the help of quantitative and qualitative data, environmental conflicts can be described, compared, and interpreted. Figure 1. Many of the reported conflicts on the map are in categories related to the production, consumption or transmission of energy, such as coal-fired power plants and hydropower plants.

The highest number of reported cases is in the category of fossil fuel and climate justice conflicts, mainly documenting the movements against the coal and natural gas fired thermal power plants. Water management and hydropower category, which documents conflicts over the lakes and rivers, including large and small-scale hydro power plants comes next. Other two energy related categories are nuclear and renewable energy categories. In total, as of March , 82 cases on the map have been reported to be related to energy production.

Indeed, it is possible to establish a link between the high number of energy related conflicts and the trends showing the level of extracted energy in Turkey's societal metabolism. As shown in Figure 2 , the energy extracted from hydro and brown coal has been on a steady rise since s. Figure 2. Such a mapping exercise of ecological conflicts can be seen as a novel form of creating knowledge by both activists and scientists, and such co-production is increasingly recognised as a pertinent method of informing scientific debate with policy implications Martinez-Alier et al.

More specifically, when accompanied by geographic information and data on flows of material and energy, it has the potential to offer understanding the root causes of environmental change and the surfacing of ecological distribution conflicts. However, in order to fully understand the dynamics of a conflict, there is a pressing need to further study the institutional context; in particular, the participation and recognition related aspects inherent in conflicts as well Schlosberg, In this context, the following section will summarize the status of environmental governance in Turkey in the background, by shortly describing the current policy practices and key actors.

Turkey has a rich record of legal texts at both the constitution and law level favouring the protection of the environment. In a similar vein, Adaman and Arsel argue that the legislative text on environment is well established whereas there are still significant environmental challenges due to insufficient implementation. Over the years, governments in Turkey, irrespective of their political stance, have supported development projects that created growth and jobs, at the expense of high environmental costs Paker et al.

In order to understand the problem of implementation, it is useful to look at the historical development of the current implementing body, The Ministry of Environment and Urbanisation. The early steps toward a national environmental policy started in the late s, at the aftermath of the United Nations Stockholm Environment and Human conference.

Environmental challenges in Europe and in the rest of the world are intertwined

As a first attempt to institutionalize environmental policymaking, the Undersecretariat of Environment, affiliated to the Prime Ministry, was established in Adaman and Arsel, With increasing concerns over environmental problems and growing awareness in s, the Under Secretariat was first transformed into the General Directorate of Environment in and then into Ministry of Environment in Paker et al. Not a decade later, in , the ministries were restructured again and this time, the Ministry of Environment and Urbanisation was established, forging together the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Public Works and Housing.

Although at first it seems to be an insignificant detail, the history section of the Ministry website does not mention anything about the Ministry of the Environment, and only the history of the Ministry of Public Works and Housing is provided 6 From this point, it can be deduced that the former Ministry of Public Works and Housing has only changed its name to include three general directorates form the old Ministry of Environment and Forestry DG of Environmental Management, DG of Environmental Impact Assessment, Permit and Inspection, and DG of Protection of Natural Assets; Sahin, In this context, Sahin argues that the focus of the current Ministry is not environment but in fact just urbanism.

Meanwhile, in , Ministry of Forestry was transformed into the Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs, undertaking some responsibilities over the protection of environment, as well. This created several conflicts of authority between the two ministries 7 In addition to these two ministries, the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, and the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, and Livestock also have responsibilities concerning the protection of environment Adaman and Arsel, The abovementioned transformation of the institutions and agencies for environmental policy aptly illustrates why the Turkish state should not be seen as a monolithic body.

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The legislative, judicial, and executive constituents clash with one another as the state bureaucracy is organised as multiple and competing institutions and agencies Akbulut, ; Adaman and Arsel, This conflict of authority and impermanence of the institutional structure is one of the reasons for the state's inability to implement environmental legislation. Indeed, the governance problem arising from the multiplicity of agencies is crystallised well in the climate change governance in Turkey, led and coordinated by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanisation MoUE , which hosts Turkey's chief negotiator under UNFCCC.

Along with the MoUE, other important actors regarding climate policy governance are as follows:. It is important to note that the ministries have different stances against an ambitious climate policy, sometimes creating conflicts between the ministries themselves. Adaman and Arsel argue that apart from the multiplicity of agencies, the incapability of the state to implement environmental legislation largely stems from the patronage-based reciprocity, sacrificing environmental protection at the expense of particular private interests.

Although the state in Turkey is built on and operates in a top-down structure Heper, , the interaction between elites and the state is carried out mostly through corruption networks, bribery and patronage Heper and Keyman, ; Adaman et al. Hence, so far, both the governments and the attached elites have found and created ingenious ways to circumvent existing legislation Adaman and Arsel, Furthermore, as mentioned before, when a choice between industrialisation and environmental protection is on the table, state's tendency has almost always been to opt for industrialisation, regardless of the political stance of the government Adaman and Arsel, The legal text does not translate well into practice due to the incapability of the institutional structure and the unwillingness of governments to enforce the legislation properly Adaman and Arsel, As a result of this lack of commitment to environmental protection, such important procedures as environmental impact assessments are most of the time seen as formalities, sometimes resulting even in failure to implement definitive court decisions Paker et al.

For instance, before s, the investments on hydroelectricity production were characterised by the big public investments for the construction of large dams, with no participation from the private sector. Since the environmental acquis contains several major legislations on water and air quality, waste management, nature conservation, industrial pollution control, noise, climate change, chemicals and GMOs, and horizontal legislation headings such as environmental impact assessment, and public access to environmental information, the alignment attempts brought into the country a large bulk of environmental legislation.

However, as mentioned earlier, the large bulk of environmental legislation did not translate fully into implementation. The Turkey Progress Report prepared by the European Commission points out the implementation problem as follows:. In the past year, there was some progress, mainly in increasing capacity in waste management and wastewater treatment, whereas enforcement and implementation remains weak , especially on waste management and industrial pollution. Overall, the EU accession process, in addition to its effects on the environmental legislation in Turkey, has enabled the civil society in Turkey to rise to prominence.

This was partly due to the increased efforts for integration to the global economy. In fact, before military coup, there was already a vibrant civil society, which, however, did not have any transformative power over the state structure Paker et al. The liberalisation period after the coup brought about the flourishing of the civil society, mobilizing for a wide range of issues such as gender, human rights, and environmental protection. Especially in s, the number of environmental organisations increased Adem, , as environmental degradation and ecological issues became more apparent in the country's agenda Paker et al.

Indeed, the development of the environmental movement in Turkey and the ways in which the environmental organizations can influence public policies are mainly determined by the political structure of the state. As Cerit Mazlum argues, the state in Turkey regardless of the political stance of the governments is passive-exclusive 11 , in the sense that the state acts selectively when taking into account the views of the civil society. Some requests can be considered negotiable, depending on the nature of the organisations, whereas other demands can be totally ignored if they create conflicts with other prioritized areas in policy-making.

Thus, in practice, the Turkish state adopts a rather arbitrary stance toward the civil society. If an environmental organisation does not contradict the developmentalist priorities of the state, it can find the state accessible on some cases while inaccessible on other cases; Paker et al. Therefore, it would not be wrong to point out that, in Turkey, there is limited participation of the environmental organisations in the decision-making processes related to the environment Cerit Mazlum, This type of selective cooperation was especially visible in the early s, when Turkey's candidacy for the EU obliged the state to collaborate with the environmental organisations as a precondition for getting hold of the pre-accession funds Kadirbeyoglu et al.

Despite the involvement of some environmental organisations in the decision-making and policy-making processes in Turkey, participation is often not effective Adaman and Arsel, ; Kadirbeyoglu et al. There are cases where civil society organisations have sometimes participated in decision-making processes by becoming members of the commissions, by presenting their opinions and by contributing to the development of environmental legislation.

Furthermore, given the inability and reluctance of the state to protect the environment, the relations between the civil society and the state has become a rather conflicted terrain, where, even such matters as nature conservation, which is usually considered a relatively conflict-free subject in the global North, may become a controversial political topic in Turkey Paker et al.

Against this background, an increasingly active and critical environmental civil society has emerged since mids, to address the deepening of environmental problems which rapidly rose in number and aggravated due to the aggressive growth strategies, particularly in the fields of the energy and infrastructure Kadirbeyoglu et al. And recently, the state's lack of commitment to environmental protection makes it a constant battleground for civil society actors Paker et al. The next section will look closely into some recent ecological distribution conflicts resulting from aggressive energy policies, again by making use of the Turkish Map of Environmental Justice and other data sources.

Turkey's energy policies have been predominated by concerns over the security of supply, affordability of energy prices, and competitive power. These concerns entail a number of important challenges and responsibilities for the country, both in terms of energy and environmental policies, and particularly in terms of climate politics.

Accordingly, there are two main trends that have shaped the energy strategy of Turkey: the rapid increase in the demand for energy and electricity as presented in Figure 3 , and country's dependence on imported fossil fuel, mainly natural gas, oil, and hard coal, leading to a significant deficit in its current account. The case for electricity production is similar to the distribution of primary energy supply. Turkey produces a notable bulk of its electricity from coal and natural gas a large share of which is imported into country. As a result, the strategic plans are made in accordance with scenarios projecting an increase in energy demand with increasing rates and matching this demand with domestic resources.

Figure 3. As a matter of fact, the roots of the strategy above date back to the Energy Supply Security Strategy published by the Higher Planning Council Secretariat in 12 , at the aftermath of the — global economic crisis. In fact, in an attempt to liberalise and deregulate the national energy sector, publicly owned power plants were rapidly privatised throughout the course of a decade, as shown in Figure 4 , where the share of the privately owned installed capacity, once below the publicly owned capacity, constituted almost three quarters of the total capacity in Figure 4.

Especially in the northeast and southwest of the country, several small-scale hydro power plants were built on the same small creeks.

Chapter 7: environmental challenges in a global context

Furthermore, strong policy tools such as exemption from environmental legislation, highly lucrative subsidy schemes, and treasury guarantees are provided especially for the coal investments. However, such coal investment projects have raised questions regarding profitability, considering the shift in the global outlook of the climate regime after the Paris Agreement, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions substantially in the coming decades.

In many instances, such expropriations meant either the destruction of forests in favour of the transmission lines and transportation roads, or the loss of livelihoods of the rural communities living off the land owned privately or rented from the state, or off the commons such as pastures, ponds, or creeks. Because of this aggressive strategy involving expropriation and enclosure of commons coupled with the environmental governance problems such as top-down decision mechanism, lack of transparency, and lack of genuine participation, mentioned earlier in the previous section , societal unrest against the electricity plants at local scale escalated even further, creating numerous local environmental justice conflicts all over the country.

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The mobilisations against the electricity generations projects can be summarised under four subheadings, each described as follows:. As part of its target to reduce imported energy, described in the Energy Supply Security Strategy, coal-fired power plants running on domestic lignite were identified as one of the main tenets of country's energy policy.

There are now many announced and planned power plants, on top of the ones already under construction and operating. Due to the problems of transparency and data availability, it is difficult to keep track of all projects on a daily basis, as several official and non-official sources present different and inconsistent figures and numbers. According to CAN Europe , there are 75 projects on the pipeline, with an additional capacity of around 45 GW which is much higher than the Vision targets , either in the pre-permit development phase, or announced.

These projects, many of which may actually never be completed, are presented in Figure 5 , together with the operating plants. Figure 5. Therefore, especially due to the import substitution strategy of the recent years, stronger and bigger incentive mechanisms were created for promoting domestic coal projects. However, these projects could still not attract investors' attention enough due to economic and technical inconveniences. Therefore, it is not possible to conclude that such strategies resulted in a decrease in the import dependency of the country Turhan, Turkey's aim to develop a coal power plant capacity to produce electricity ignited several local environmental justice conflicts in many regions, regardless of whether the plant burns domestic lignite or imported hard coal.

Figure 6. Environmental conflicts against the coal power plants, Turkish Map of Environmental Justice, March While some of the struggles reported on the Figure 6 are against the plants in operation, many of them are against the planned and announced plants. There are several reasons why local communities and national civil society are mobilising against these projects.

Many local and national health professionals are openly against these coal power plants due to the severe health impacts and respiratory diseases they cause Pala, Villagers in Ylrca, a small village in the Aegean region, are against these projects because around six thousands of their precious olive trees on land rented from the state were cut down overnight, by a coal power plant investor company Turhan, Vishnevetsky J.

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Strengthening the Economic Case for Action. Knowlton K. Health Aff. Millwood ; 30 — Roland-Holst D. Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters. Gould S. United Nations The Paris Agreement. With nothing more than regulatory policies of the type and stringency simulated here there is no market for these technologies, and the shale gas reduces interest even further.

Under more stringent GHG targets these technologies are needed, but the shale gas delays their market role by up to two decades. Thus in the shale boom there is the risk of stunting these programs altogether. While taking advantage of this gift in the short run, treating gas a 'bridge' to a low-carbon future, it is crucial not to allow the greater ease of the near-term task to erode efforts to prepare a landing at the other end of the bridge. When the industry goes south, and it will go south, they just walk away. Read Caption. Natural gas flared as waste is a new sight on the Dakota prairie, where fracking—a way of extracting hard-to-reach oil—and directional drilling have sparked a boom.

Will environmental damage from fracking natural gas will outweigh the gains from using a fuel that is cleaner than oil or coal? By Christina Nunez , National Geographic.