Policy Briefing: Milas Beyond Coal

Europe in transition


Since the Industrial Revolution, there has been a significant increase in the global average temperature due to the greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activities. Currently, the world is experiencing a temperature rise of 1.2°C compared to the pre-industrial period. The ongoing rapid increase in global average temperature has far-reaching consequences, contributing to significant social and economic crises. These include a surge in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, such as devastating floods causing substantial loss of lives and prolonged, intensified forest fires fueled by heatwaves, as well as a rise in related health issues. The Paris Agreement signed in 2015 and the subsequent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C (SR15), authored by 91 contributors and informed by the work of hundreds of scientists, emphasise the importance of constraining global warming to 1.5°C as a critical threshold for the future of human civilisation. To ensure that the average global temperature rise remains under this crucial threshold, it is necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change to a minimum and achieve a global balance between emissions produced and removed from the atmosphere by mid-century (what is known as ‘reaching net zero’).

Because coal is the fossil resource with the highest carbon intensity, leaving it in the ground rather than extracting and burning it to generate power is the most effective single step that can be taken to  reduce emissions. Producing electricity from coal is the industry that causes the single highest amount of global emissions, and affordable renewable replacement options are already readily  available. Following the adoption of the Paris Agreement, many countries expedited their efforts to fight climate change by implementing emission reduction policies and setting targets to phase out coal in electricity production by 2030 or earlier — objectives that remain unchanged despite the energy crisis triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022. The negative external costs of coal, the declining cost of renewable energy production and storage, and the growing demand for flexibility in energy markets have all contributed to a global decline in coal usage that is expected to continue at an even more rapid pace in the coming years. Despite all this, coal still accounts for 35 %per cent  of Turkey’s electricity production, with no official policy in place for phasing it out. But discussions are accelerating in Turkey around the transition to a net zero economy and the elimination of coal-generated power due to global developments such as the European Green Deal (EGD) initiated in the European Union in 2019.

While it is technologically feasible to phase out coal, the necessary transition also entails broader social and economic transformations, including those related to employment and skills sets. For a transition to a net zero economy to be just and inclusive, it must prioritise the well-being of people along with that of the environment, and be structured in a way that allows individuals to adjust and adapt to the changes while reaping the benefits that arise from them. To achieve this, it is crucial for governments, local authorities, businesses, and financial institutions to develop a comprehensive framework for a just transition in consultation with trade unions, local communities, and environmental organisations.

By focusing on the coal-producing district of Milas as a representative region in Turkey, this report seeks to formulate recommendations on addressing the social and economic consequences and mitigating the challenges associated with a rapid coal phase out, particularly on local economies and employment. It aims to explore the advantages associated with transitioning to a net zero economy while identifying the needs and expectations in the local community for a just and equitable transition away from coal power in Turkey.


Read the full policy briefing here