Turkey is one of several countries facing a coal rush. Corporations are pushing plans for dozens of new coal-fired power plants across the country. Yet thankfully, Turkey has an enormously vibrant movement rising up in opposition. On the Black Sea coast the local community of Gerze has been struggling against a proposed plant there for 3 years — including a 24 hour watch to ensure that company equipment couldn’t start on construction unnoticed. (See below for more news on Gerze).
Just this past Sunday, as most of us were watching the stream of Climate Impacts Day photos pour in from around the world, 5,000 people turned out in Izmir on the Agean coast to call for an end to 3 existing coal plants there already and stopping a 4th new one.
For all out there who speak Turkish, there’s some great TV coverage of the event here. And below is a photo of one of Turkey’s great climate movement leaders and radio broadcasters, Omer Madra of Acik Radyo, rallying the crowd.
There is a long uphill struggle against coal in Turkey ahead, but if anything can resist it and create alternatives, it’s this movement.
Here’s a more full update about the Gerze, Turkey struggle from Pinar Aksogan of Greenpeace Mediterranean:
There are dirty coal power plant plans in Gerze, one of the finest towns on the Black Sea coast, Turkey. Anadolu Group, who wants to build this proposed coal power plant is a major consumer goods products company such as Coca Cola and Efes Pilsen. They have more recently looked to diversify into energy, where their biggest investment planned is the 1200 MW power plant at Gerze, a town on Turkey’s Black Sea Coast.
The people of Gerze have been fighting for three years against this coal-fired power plant. Local people have been on watch on 24 hours a day to prevent the company’s equipment from doing any construction on a coal plant that they say will harm their agricultural land and have detrimental effects on air, sea and drinking water.
The protests of the local people turned into active resistance as the Anadolu Group tried to bring its drilling equipment into the village to take samples. During the intervention by the police on 5 September 2011, 25 locals were injured by gas grenades and batons.
Through their attorneys in Ankara, people from Gerze and Yaykıl have signed a petition and sent it to the Ministry indicating their concerns about the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for the plant, which they say distorts some facts and misleads authorities. Additional petitions to the Ministry from agricultural associations, professional chambers, unions and consumer protection agencies voiced similar concerns. Finally those efforts reached success and 6 councils rejected the report finding the submitted documents insuffcient. 2 of them; Forest and Water Council totally rejected the EIA expressing that this area is not suitable to construct a coal power plant and this plan should be cancelled. Now the group is given 3 months more to fulfill all the required documents.
The fight against the plant has reached a tipping point even into government bureaucracy. Normally, EIA Reports are easily approved in Turkey, especially if it is such a huge investment which is supported by the government (1200 MW CPP). This is the success of the long and consistent resistance of the people of Gerze and the campaing we’ve been running intensively for the last 10 months. Local people plan to continue their resistance until the group withdraws their plans.
Each year 2,5 million tonnes of coal will be burned in the Gerze Coal Power Plant. The emission from the Gerze Coal Power Plant will be 7 million tones each year. The plant is a fossil-fuel power station that burns coal. There is no clean coal. For satisfying Turkey’s growing energy consumption, we should lean towards renewable and environmentally friendly energy sources such as wind and solar, found in abundance in the country. Coal-fired thermal power plants are responsible for 41 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, a direct cause of climate change.