More than 20 NGOs including East Mediterranean Platform of Environment Associations, the Chamber of Doctors in Adana, Chamber of Agricultural Engineers in Adana, 350.org, Climate Action Network Europe (CAN Europe), Ekosfer, Greenpeace Mediterranean, Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), and Yuva Association called Chinese banks to withdraw their financial support to the Hunutlu coal-fired power plant that is being constructed in the Yumurtalik District of Adana, Turkey.
The organizations highlight the lack of compliance with law and the environmental degradation the power plant entails and ask the Chinese banks to finance clean energy instead of coal investments.
The modeling, conducted by the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) and the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) reveals that air pollutant emissions from the project would be responsible for a projected 2,000 premature deaths in the operating life time of the plant. As in the region there are already operating three plants (Tufanbeyli, Atlas and Isken Sugözü) this would result in a total of 7,400 deaths over the operating period. The emissions control technology the project developers plan to use is far weaker than that required for new projects in China.
The letter is sent to three banks in China – China Development Bank, ICBC and Bank of China – and to Shanghai Electric, the largest shareholder of the power plant. The NGOs address the negative impacts of the power plant on human health, biodiversity, agricultural production and climate. Moreover, the project, which is defined as a ‘’key project within the Belt and Road Initiative’’ does not comply with the regulations in Turkey and international agreements in addition to the controversies that the project poses to China’s green finance policies.
According to the statements within the letter, the project site is already struggling with intensely polluted air. The letter points to the excess amount of air pollution that is above the limit values even when the measurements were conducted during the summer period when the quality of air was the highest at the two locations for the EIA Report. HEAL further estimates that the death of 1 out of 5 people is attributable to air pollution amongst people over the age of 30 in 2019 in Adana, a city with a population above two million. Cancer incidents in Yumurtalık have also increased by 11-fold between 2009-2014 in parallel.
Another point that stands out in the letter is that Sugözü Beach, where the power plant is being constructed, is an important sea turtle nesting area that is under protection based on the Memorandum 2009-10 regarding Protection of Sea Turtles, issued by the General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks. The construction of the power plant also violates the Bern Convention, as it poses a threat to the nesting sites of green sea turtles, which has been listed among “endangered species” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The project also violates Articles 8d, 8k and 14c of the Convention on Biological Diversity of which China and Turkey are signatories of.
NGOs initiated the petition to halt the construction of the power plant where they ask the Chinese banks to withdraw from the project and instead provide financial support for sustainable and renewable energy investments in Turkey.
The organizations highlight the withdrawal of Engie – the French utility in November 2015 from another coal power plant in Yumurtalik within the Iskenderun Bay due to oppositions at local and international levels. The NGOs also highlight the litigation process that was concluded in December 2019 with the decision to cancel the construction of another coal power plant – that is 20 km to Hunutlu – due to the existence of endemic species within the project site.
Dr. Sadun Bölükbaşı, on behalf of the East Mediterranean Platform of Environment Associations: “Two months ago, we asked the Chinese banks for a face to face meeting or a meeting over the phone to evaluate the power plant with the local stakeholders in our letter. Unfortunately, to date, we have not received a response and sent another letter to them last week to maintain communication channels open and repeat our invitation to a meeting.
An investment at this scale needs to benefit both China and Turkey, most importantly the local communities that will bear the impacts of the coal plant. We do not believe that the project that will operate on imported coal will provide any benefit to our communities and our country due to the negative impacts on the environment, climate, and biodiversity. We demand support for clean sectors such as solar and wind which would benefit stakeholders in Turkey and China and we ask the Chinese banks to act on the basis of sustainable development and comply with China’s green financing policies.”
East Mediterranean Platform of Environment Associations (Doğu Akdeniz Çevre Dernekleri Platformu, DAÇE), Adana Environment and Consumer Protection Association (Çevre ve Tüketici Koruma Derneği Adana), Mersin Friends of Environment (Mersin Çevre Dostları Derneği), Antakya Nature Conservation Association (Antakya Çevre Koruma Derneği) Iskenderun Nature Conservation Association (İskenderun Çevre Koruma Derneği), Erzin Association for Conserving Environment and Historical Heritage(Erzin Çevre ve Tarihi Varlıkları Koruma Derneği),Tarsus Nature Conservation, Culture and Art Association (Tarsus Çevre Koruma Kültür ve Sanat Merkezi Derneği), Adana Chamber of Doctors (Adana Tabip Odası), Erzin Chamber of Agriculture (Erzin Ziraat Odası), Erzin Yesilkent Irrigation Cooperative (Erzin Yeşilkent Sulama Kooperatifi).
350.org, Greenpeace, Foça Forum, FOÇEP, MUÇEP, Bartın Platform, Kazdagi Association for Protecting Natural and Cultural Heritage (Kazdağı Doğal ve Kültürel Varlıkları Koruma Derneği), Climate Action Network Europe (CAN Europe), Greens Alliance (Yeşiller Meclisi), Initiative Against Fossil Fuels (Fosil Yakıt Karşıtı İnisiyatif), Zero Carbon Future (Sıfır Karbon Gelecek), Yuva Association, Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) and Ekosfer.
Dr. Sadun Bölükbaşı, East Mediterranean Platform of Environment Associations, firstname.lastname@example.org, +90 532 440 43 99
Atty. İsmail Atal, East Mediterranean Environment Associations Platform, email@example.com, +90 532 446 47 32
Ahmet Hilal, Chamber of Doctors in Adana, firstname.lastname@example.org, +90 532 504 13 91
Feyzullah Korkut, Chamber of Agricultural Engineers in Adana, email@example.com, +90 533 276 79 14
Efe Baysal, 350.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, +90 532 590 77 76
Elif Gündüzyeli, CAN Europe, email@example.com, +90 536 854 61 28
Özgür Gürbüz, Ekosfer Derneği, firstname.lastname@example.org, +90 533 660 10 05
Funda Gacal, Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), email@example.com, +90 506 251 21 86
Nisan Su Tablacı, Yuva Association, firstname.lastname@example.org, +90 537 855 10 50
Notes to Editors
The currently operating plants are responsible for an estimated 200 deaths per year (95% confidence interval: 120-250). If all plants are operated until the end of their remaining operating life, assumed to be 40 years, this would mean approximately 5,400 future air-pollution related deaths from the existing plants. The addition of the EMBA Hunutlu plant would add a projected 2,000 cumulative deaths, assuming an operating life of 40 years, bringing the future total to an estimated 7,400 deaths (95% confidence interval: 4,800 – 10,100). Other projected health impacts from the studied plants include 15.8 million sickness days, including 1.9 million lost working days, 240,000 days of asthmatic and bronchitic symptoms in children, 27,000 cases of bronchitis in children, 4,500 new cases of chronic bronchitis in adults, 10,000 hospital admissions and 3,300 low birth weight births.
Please see CREA’s study for further information: Air Quality and Health Impacts of the Proposed EMBA Hunutlu Coal Power Project