Turkish city of Gaziantep unveils climate change action plan

By Olga Rosca
@olgarosca


EBRD helps municipality develop policies to tackle climate change and cut emissions

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is supporting the south-eastern Turkish city of Gaziantep with an ambitious set of policies to tackle climate change by cutting emissions by 20 per cent by 2023.

The dramatic improvement to the environment is laid out in a comprehensive action plan launched by Deputy Mayor Latif Kaaradağ and the Bank to strengthen the city’s climate resilience over the course of the next seven years.

The plan developed with the EBRD builds on a previous set of climate change policies prepared by the municipality in 2011. Gaziantep was the first city in Turkey to develop such a document. Similar plans have previously been drawn up by the world’s largest cities such as London, Paris, New York, Mexico, Sydney and Tokyo.

Mr Kaaradağ said: “The advancements in technology and an increasing population contribute to climate change. To prevent the adverse effects the metropolitan municipality developed a climate change action plan in 2011, and has now reviewed and enhanced the plan with new measures.”

Home to 1.9 million people, Gaziantep is the sixth most populous city and among the fastest-growing municipalities in Turkey. Population growth, in particular due to the Syrian refugee crisis and domestic migration, has a significant impact on the city’s energy and resource consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions. It also puts a strain on municipal services such as water and wastewater services, heating and transportation, reinforcing the need for greater efficiency.

Higher temperatures and reduced rainfall during already long and dry summers in Turkey’s south-east result in desertification, a decrease in soil fertility and a change of water cycles, all of which negatively affect agriculture. The situation poses a real risk for the local economy and food supply in the region.

Sung-Ah Kyun, Manager in the Energy Efficiency and Climate Change team at the EBRD, said: “The municipality of Gaziantep has been at the forefront of trying to respond to the city's climate and environmental needs. We welcome the municipality’s commitment to working together with the industrial zones and businesses, other municipal stakeholders, community organisations and development partners to find appropriate ways to implement these activities while also making them sustainable through monitoring and tracking."

According to the EBRD-backed plan developed with funds from the European Union, the sectors responsible for the most greenhouse gas emissions are industry, transport, agriculture and housing.

To cut emissions, the city will work with businesses to promote energy efficiency measures as well as the use of renewable energy technologies for electricity generation, heating and cooling.

It will also seek to introduce more environmentally friendly transport solutions, such as expanding the number of compressed natural gas (CNG) buses and phasing out old vehicles. Previously the Bank has provided a €10 million loan to the Gaziantep municipality for the purchase of CNG buses.

The climate change action plan also proposes measures to help agriculture become more sustainable through the use of waste-to-energy technologies and geographic information systems, as well as to reforest certain areas in order to trap CO2 emissions.

Furthermore, the city will promote a shift from coal to alternative fuels such as natural gas in the residential and municipal sectors, collective low-carbon heating and cooling systems, energy-saving lighting in buildings, smarter solid waste management and improvements in water supply and water treatment.

The municipality will create a new department to ensure the successful implementation of the plan. Energy audits will be made compulsory for energy-intensive companies and large residential and commercial buildings. The city will also undertake an awareness-raising campaign, which will create energy efficiency and renewable energy advice centres and develop training programmes.

Gaziantep, where the EBRD has had an office since 2014, is a dynamic business hub and a gateway to the south-east of the country. Its exports account for over 4 per cent of Turkey’s total exports. The city has a growing industrial base but remains an important centre for agribusiness.

The EBRD’s operations in Gaziantep and Turkey’s south-east are headed by Senior Banker Gökhan Karaçetin.

Speaking about the EBRD’s support to Gaziantep and the surrounding region, Mr Karaçetin said: “We are currently considering projects that will improve municipal infrastructure, boost small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurship, and promote economic inclusion and gender equality.”

The Bank started investing in Turkey in 2009 and currently operates from offices in Istanbul, Ankara and Gaziantep.

To date, it has invested over €7 billion in the country through more than 180 projects in infrastructure, energy, agribusiness, industry and finance. It has also mobilised about €17 billion for these ventures from other sources of financing.

In 2015 Turkey was the top destination for EBRD financing, with €1.9 billion invested that year alone.

Climate Change Action Plan of Gaziantep – Executive summary in English | Turkish