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Turkey: Increased engagement for cleaner air ahead of Istanbul G20 Summit

More and more health organisations are joining efforts for cleaner air in Turkey, highlighting the need for healthy energy choices. This engagement is particularly welcome in view of the November G20 summit which will look into progress on ending fossil fuel subsidies.

The Turkish government is pursuing a massive coal rush in the country, with plans to build around 80 new coal power plants for electricity generation. Earlier this year, HEAL and Turkish partners published new evidence underlining that the existing coal power fleet already causes significant health costs of up to 3.6 billion EUR annually.

In September, HEAL invited partners from the Turkish Medical Association, specialised disease associations, environmental lawyers and grassroots medical professionals for an exchange on how this evidence can help support efforts to prevent new coal projects at the local level. HEAL is particularly concerned about efforts to build 19 new plants in the Iskenderun Bay area, which is already heavily polluted because of industrial activities.

18 civil society organisations working on nature conservation and health also recently launched the “Right to Clean Air Platform”, with the aim of drawing attention to the factors that threaten public and environmental health through creating air pollution, particularly to coal-fired power plants. This Platform emphasises that in Turkey every year thousands of people die of reasons related to air pollution and stated that they will perform work on coal-fired power plants, which are one of the main reasons of this pollution. HEAL is a collaborating international partner.

The platform members include:

Doctors for Environment Association (Çevre için Hekimler Derneği), Greenpeace Mediterranean, Association of Public Health Specialists (Halk Sağlığı Uzmanları Derneği-HASUDER), Association of Occupational and Professional Diseases Specialists (İş ve Meslek Hastalıkları Uzmanları Derneği-İMUD), General Practitioners Association (Pratisyen Hekimlik Derneği), Turkish Neurological Society (Türk Nöroloji Derneği), TEMA The Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion, for Reforestation and the Protection of Natural Habitats (Türkiye Erozyonla Mücadele, Ağaçlandırma ve Doğal Varlıkları Koruma Vakfı-TEMA Vakfı), Turkish Respiratory Society (Türkiye Solunum Araştırmaları Derneği-TÜSAD), Turkish Medical Association (Türk Tabipleri Birliği-TTB), Turkish Thoracic Society (Türk Toraks Derneği-TTD), Greenpeace Law Association (Yeşil Barış Hukuk Derneği), Green Thought Association (Yeşil Düşünce Derneği), Yuva Association (Yuva Derneği).

Supporting Institutions: HEAL, 350.org, Climate Action Network Europe (CAN Europe), and WWF-Turkey.

Further resources and useful information:

Turkey currently holds the presidency of G20, the forum bringing together the 20 strongest global economies. In mid November, Heads of Governments will meet in Istanbul to consider inter alia progress on eliminating fossil fuel subsidies. In 2009, the G20 committed to ending public financing in the medium term. However, little action has been taken since, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently estimated that governments grant 5.3 trillion USD of public money for fossil fuels, with coal being the most heavily subsidised.

More information: IMF Report - How Large Are Global Energy Subsidies?

Originally posted on 16 October 2015

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The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »

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