Syrian natural gas is one possible source for the Nabucco pipeline, which environmentalists say will do Turkey -- and Europe -- more harm than good. Photo by Taras Kalapun via Flickr.
Earlier this week, European Union countries and Turkey inked a deal laying out transit and tax specifications for the Nabucco pipeline, which aims to reduce European dependence on Russian natural gas. The deal is considered a key step in revitalizing the prospects for the long-delayed $11 billion project.
Turkish newspapers characteristically heralded the ceremony as "the signing of the century" and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said it rendered the pipeline's construction "inevitable." But not everyone was cheering.Feeding fossil-fuel dependency
"At a time when we need to decrease fossil-fuel consumption, we are increasing it. This is not acceptable," said Ahmet Atıl Aşıcı, an assistant professor in Istanbul Technical University's industrial-engineering department and the international coordinator of the Green Party in Turkey. "In December, countries will pledge to decrease the production of greenhouse gas by a certain amount in Copenhagen. But projects like Nabucco increase Europe's dependency on fossil fuel."
Aşıcı also noted the damage being done at terminal points of existing pipelines, such as Ceyhan, Turkey, on the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, where he says construction of ports and thermal energy stations is polluting the environment.
Greenpeace sounded similar concerns, saying that the Nabucco pipeline would cause CO2 emissions in Europe to increase by 60 million tons annually, and noting that the money spent on the project could instead be used to install 4,000 wind turbines and produce 8,000 megawatts of wind power.
Solar a better option
"Over the next few years, power from solar energy will become significantly cheaper than natural gas," Jurrien Westerhof, an energy expert for Greenpeace Austria, said in a statement. "With the Nabucco deal, Austria is committing itself for decades to drawing natural gas from supplier countries in the Caspian region, no matter what the price."
The 3,300-kilometer Nabucco pipeline is expected to bring natural gas to Europe from the Caspian Sea and the Middle East. Two-thirds of it will run through Turkey, which has heralded the project as a boon for job creation. Aşıcı took issue with that notion as well.
"Pipes will be laid and infrastructure prepared, which will create temporary employment," he admitted. "But the project will end in a few years. It is more important for the government, at a time when unemployment is so high, to create permanent, environmentally friendly, 'green' jobs. When there is wind and sun, expecting employment from a temporary project is an exercise in futility. It is much more rational to invest in renewable energy."
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