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Adana – More than 20 civil society organisations have sent a letter to Chinese banks, China Development Bank, ICBC and Bank of China, calling on them to withdraw their financial support for the Hunutlu coal fired power plant that is being constructed in the Yumurtalik District of Adana, Turkey.
Signatories include the East Mediterranean Platform of Environment Associations, the Chamber of Doctors in Adana, the 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
The organizations highlight the lack of compliance with the law and the environmental degradation the power plant would cause and ask the Chinese banks to finance clean and sustainable energy instead of additional coal projects.
New modeling, conducted by the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) and the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) reveals that emissions of air pollutant from the project would be responsible for an estimated additional 2,000 premature deaths in the operating life time of the plant. As in the region three coal power plants (Tufanbeyli, Atlas and Isken Sugözü) are already in operation, 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 has been 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.
The region already struggles with intensely polluted air which is above Turkey’s updated limit values even in summer, at the two locations according to the 2014 dated EIA Report. HEAL estimates that the death of 1 out of 5 people can be attributed to air pollution amongst people over the age of 30 in 2019 in Adana, a city with a population above two million. Continued poor air quality could also be a factor explaining the 11-fold increase in cancer cases in Yumurtalık between 2009-2014.
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 a 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 in 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 existence of endemic species within the project site.
Dr. Sadun Bölükbaşı, on behalf of 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 who 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.”