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Front. Energy Res. | doi: 10.3389/fenrg.2019.00033

Identifying Ecological Distribution Conflicts around the Inter-Regional Flow of Energy in Turkey: A Mapping Exercise

  • 1Istanbul Policy Center, Sabanci University, Turkey
  • 2Department of Economics, Yeditepe University, Turkey

The consumption of more energy in Turkey is seen as a precondition for the economic and social development of the country in line with its comprehensive ideology of modernization and progress, and hence, a rather aggressive strategy in energy infrastructure investments is adopted since mid 2000s. Because of this aggressive strategy involving expropriation and enclosure of commons societal unrest against the electricity plants at local scale escalated even further, creating numerous local environmental justice conflicts all over the country.

While electricity generation in Turkey is mostly carried out at the rural setting, electricity is consumed mostly in the urban setting, where both the household and industrial consumption levels are higher. A comparison of the regional distribution of electricity generation and consumption in Turkey shows that while the electricity generation capacity is concentrated in some cities – Izmir, Sakarya, Adana, Hatay, Zonguldak, Çanakkale, Muğla, and Samsun to name a few – it is mostly consumed in the urbanised centres of the country, more particularly in Istanbul, Kocaeli, Bursa, Ankara, and Izmir (the industrialised cities, considered as the engine of growth in the country). Hence, it would not be wrong to say that some cities such as Çanakkale and Zonguldak are designated as “ecological sacrifice zones” for the sake of national growth, illustrating well how Turkey prioritises economic growth (and thus industrialisation) over just ecological distribution.

At this background, this paper focuses on the ecological distribution conflicts over electricity generation infrastructures and attempts to provide a mapping of the different electricity generation projects (in operation, under construction or planned) to better understand the urban-rural interplay over the electricity consumption and production. Hence, it attempts to shed light on the growing number of environmental conflicts for the last three decades, following the aggressive neo-liberal policies of modernisation and industrialisation.

Keywords: environmental justice, Energy Policy, environmental governance, Turkey, Ecological distribution conflicts

Received: 29 Jun 2018; Accepted: 11 Mar 2019.

Edited by:

Alevgul H. SORMAN, Basque centre for climate change, Spain

Reviewed by:

Hande Paker, Bahçeşehir University, Turkey
Akgün İlhan, Boğaziçi University, Turkey  

Copyright: © 2019 Aydın. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Cem İskender Aydın, Istanbul Policy Center, Sabanci University, Istanbul, Turkey, cemiaydin@gmail.com