“Beyond special circumstances: climate change policy in Turkey 1992–2015”

Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change
Edited By: Mike Hulme
Impact Factor: 3.415
ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2014: 4/100 (Environmental Studies); 12/77 (Meteorology & Atmospheric Sciences)
Online ISSN: 1757-7799

by Ethemcan Turhan, Semra Cerit Mazlum, Ümit Şahin, Alevgül H. Şorman and Arif Cem Gündoğan

Article first published online: 7 MAR 2016

DOI: 10.1002/wcc.390

The contours of Turkey’s climate policy have remained almost intact over the past two decades. Being an Annex I party without any mitigation commitments, Turkey maintains a peculiar position under UNFCCC. Subsequent to 12 years of delay in signing both the Framework Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, Turkey had the highest rate of increase in greenhouse gas emissions among the Annex I countries with 110.4% upsurge in the period 1990 and 2013. Yet with the new climate regime now in place, the country’s mitigation pledges fall short of expectations both in terms of realistic projections and its ambition to step up in the post-2020 period. Climate policies in Turkey, an EU candidate and OECD founding member with a growing economy, remain under-investigated. Although the country has a wide range of policies and institutions in place, it shows limited progress in addressing climate change. Based on evidence from the literature, we observe that climate policies operationalize in Turkey insofar as they do not directly confront developmental ambitions, leaving policy diffusion with limited success. To provide a historic overview, we focus on climate policy development, actors, processes, and contemporary trends. Evidence shows that these are highly ridden with the politics of special circumstances: a notion that Turkey employs to refrain from bindings commitments. In order to go beyond special circumstances discourse, we argue the need for a bold policy shift in Turkey, a country subject to adverse impacts of climate change and high-carbon lock-in risk due to development policy preferences.