May Eco-Tidbits from Turkey
Spring finally sprung this month in Istanbul, after what seemed like a long, wet winter. On the green front, the forecast was mostly sunny with some patches of gloom, as you'll see when we once again wrap up some of the month's environmental news from Turkey, developments that prompted reactions of both "süper" (yep, just like in English, but with an umlaut) and "maalesef" (unfortunately):Süper!
- The 15th International Energy & Environment Fair and Conference, held May 13-15 in Istanbul, was Turkey's first big "carbon neutral" event. Organizers bought carbon credits equivalent to the energy consumed and greenhouse gases emitted by attendees' travel to and participation in the convention.
- The European Union is providing almost $40,000 in funding for four environmental-protection projects in the southeastern city of Kahramanmaraş, including one to clean up Kumasir Lake.
- Twelve more Turkish cities would see construction of metro lines by 2023 under a bill prepared by the country's Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government. Currently, there are metro systems in Istanbul, Ankara, İzmir, and Adana.
- Zorlu Energy Group has signed a deal to build Turkey's largest wind farm, a project supported in part by a loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, making its first investment in the country, the sixth-largest electricity market in Europe. Reuters reports that the 135-megawatt wind farm in Adana province will have 54 turbines and is expected to "boost Turkey’s current installed wind generation capacity of around 500 megawatts by about 30 percent."
- Three municipalities in the Aegean city of İzmir have announced that they will open bazaars to sell organic textiles and agricultural products in the fall. According to the chairman of the Ecologic Agriculture Organization, which will operate the markets, "demand for organic products [is] increasing because of widespread mounting health problems."
- A newly instituted €0.28 feed-in tariff--a "fixed, premium rate for small-scale energy producers feeding electricity into the national grid"--for producing solar energy is expected to boost development of Turkey's photovoltaic sector. The country receives an average of seven hours of sunshine each day.
- Gazelle populations in the southern city of Şanlıurfa are on the rebound thanks to a government protection program. Illegal hunting had dangerously decreased herds of the animals, which now number more than 1,500.
- The latest installment of the International Environmental Project Olympiad came to a successful conclusion in Istanbul, with a team of students from South Korea winning the gold medal for their research on producing bioenergy.
- Greenpeace has slammed Turkey for not following international quotas on endangered Mediterranean bluefin tuna, saying that the country has already illegally taken in between 5 and 10 tons of juvenile fish below the minimum landing size. According to the environmental organization, "Turkey currently operates the largest Mediterranean fleet fishing for bluefin tuna, an economically and ecologically valuable species facing imminent collapse as direct result of overfishing."
- Almost 20 percent of all the plant species in Turkey--1,876 of them--are under threat of extinction, according to a researcher at Atatürk University. Population growth, pollution, tourism, highway expansion, and the use of genetically engineered organisms are among the reported culprits.
- Turkey boosted the flow of the Euphates River water going to Iraq after its downstream neighbor warned of drought conditions, but Iraqi parliament member Saleh al-Mutlaq said it is still not enough to sustain agriculture in his country.