Coal-fired power plants: Europe shuts them down but we keep building them
This is the question I have been asked each year upon my return from the forum.
The days when “Turkey was the star of Davos” are long gone, so I do not know how to answer this question.
From Davos, Turkey is seen as a more isolated country, running counter to global trends.
For instance, plans to build a coal-fired power plant in Eskişehir against which a group of locals formed a human chain in protest. This planned coal-fired plant was simply enough for people in Davos to get goosebumps.
Because one of the hottest issues debated in Davos was climate change and everybody is aware that coal-fired power plants are mainly responsible for climate change.
No wonder the audience applauded cheerfully when French President Emmanuel Macron said in a speech he delivered in Davos that France would close all coal-fired power plants by 2021.
Time of coal gone
Macron received more applause when he said that he wanted to make France a model in the fight against climate change and that France would pursue “a green strategy.”
Almost all leaders who attended the WEF in Davos this year touched upon the climate change issue.
A new breed of economists say that protecting the environment should be more important than economic growth.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s right-hand man Liu He, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Mori and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; they all attach great importance to the fight against climate change.
China, which has halted the construction of 100 coal-fired power plants, bids to take the lead on climate change not only in Asia but in the world.
According to a report by London-based think-thank Carbon Tracker, which was widely debated in Davos, more than 50 percent of Europe’s coal-fired plants are losing money.
As the U.K.’s Climate Change Minister Claire Perry puts it, “the time of coal has passed.”
Eskişehir’s clean air
This is what happens in China and Europe. But it is sad to hear that a coal-fired power plant will be built in Eskişehir, which is one of the six cities in Turkey with “clean air.”
Moreover, the land on which the power plant is to be built has been declassified as “agricultural site.”
The Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion, for Reforestation and the Protection of Natural Habitats (TEMA) estimates that the planned power plant in Eskişehir will consume 6.3 million tons of coal each year.
By the time the power plant reaches its lifespan of 35 years, 50 million tons of ashes and coal waste will have been discharged to the fertile Alpu plain.
Eskişehir meets 6.4 percent of Turkey’s sugar beet production, 3.9 percent of barley, 3.3 percent of wheat and almost all of the asparagus production.
The Alpu plain is an arable land with cattle-feeding operations.
Is it not sad that those lands will be wasted?