TRNC Can Lead the World on Climate Change
From A A Wisley….
Imagine your that country’s leaders foresee a problem that will, without any doubt, cause a disaster in 100 years’ time. They understand that painful steps can be taken to mitigate the problem but they face an election in two years. If they want to retain the lucrative benefits of power, they cannot afford to upset their wealthy backers by interfering with their businesses or their pleasures. Ordinary voters, in practice, rarely count for much at elections. They are bribed with empty promises (financed with their own money paid in taxes) so they do not rock the boat nor wish to accept the burdens of change.
In 99% of cases leaders, whilst they might talk of their concern for the distant problem, in fact, do nothing tangible to change the status quo. The parody film “Don’t Look Up” brilliantly skewers this hypocrisy. Few leaders have the courage to grasp the painful nettle of ignoring the short-term electoral consequences in order to achieve long-term benefits. Short-termism is an inconveniently strong human trait.
Climate change, population growth, and environmental degradation are three distinct but interlinked problems that affect every part of the planet. Each has been stealthy, like a time bomb each has been steadily ticking down to the moment of explosion.“Explosion” is, perhaps, the wrong word. These problems are more like incurable cancers that slowly grow, metastasize, and eat away at the organism ultimately overwhelming it. They are incurable in the sense that there is no simple, one-jab, vaccination to cure them. The temperature rises over the next 100 years are unstoppable whatever happens; sea level rises over several hundred years are unstoppable; human population growth to 10 billion is unstoppable; plant, animal, insect, and microorganism extinctions are irreversible and more extinctions, yet to come, will be unstoppable.
Bad as all that sounds, on looking back in human history it seems that even a small, temporary climatic upset of a few years can cause the downfall of a civilisation, as happened, for example, to the Hittites and at least one Chinese and Egyptian kingdom. Imagine the consequences of total crop failures lasting for just two or three years in China or India (each with a population of 1.4 billion). The likelihood of huge migration-induced conflict would be extremely high. And they both have the Bomb to make the risks worse. In other words, large-scale climate-induced disasters are not remote and 100 years in the future, they can occur at any time now. They will just be much worse later on.
The International Panel on Climate Change’s increasingly bleak assessments are beginning to be taken seriously by governments although there is scant evidence of real progress. CO2 levels continue to rise. Emission reductions are faked and some are not even counted such as the Drax power station and those from shipping. The 8 billion “men in the street” barely seem to care unless they are directly impacted.
The aim of the human species now must be to do everything it can to reduce the causes of the triple pestilence to reduce the scale of future changes AND to take immediate steps to mitigate the consequences of those changes. Mankind must save itself and the planet from mankind.
It may sound completely ridiculous to claim that the TRNC could lead the world in preparing for a better future on climate change. Cyprus is in a zone where average land temperatures already exceed the UN 1.5°C target and which will suffer more than most from climatic problems. Moreover, the population of the TRNC is about 0.005% of that of the world so its direct contribution to reducing global greenhouse gases and other pollutants will be invisibly small. Worse still, North Cyprus is rapidly destroying its own environment with the uncontrolled, rapacious building of unsuitable properties together with the annihilation of its natural habitats by clearances and poor agricultural practices. Businesses and politicians don’t care about the future they just want to bank as much as possible today. “Don’t Look Up”.
The short-term (5-15 years), the medium-term (15-30 years) and the long-term (30-100 years) outlooks for North Cyprus are all quite appalling. Given the reality, that the decision horizon for the politicians in charge is about 12-18 months rather than one of planning for the survival of their grandchildren, then there is very little cause for optimism.
However, there are some. Huge changes are required and these changes give businesses, individuals and governments equally massive opportunities to prosper but in a different way. Good policies adopted now can make the TRNC a prosperous, world leader in managing climate change.
The Four “S” Aces
North Cyprus cannot, itself, possibly have any impact on the global population or climate change. What it can do is manage its own environment and adaption to climate change. Radical policies can have dramatic effects on the local environment and the quality of life of its citizens. Successful adaptation policies can mitigate the effects of the world’s global climate catastrophe surrounding us.
Surprisingly the TRNC has 4 aces, each an “S”, in the hand of cards dealt out to it by Nature.
The first “S” ace is Sunshine.
The electrical power consumption of the TRNC is about 1.2 Gigawatt hours per year. In addition, energy is consumed in the form of vehicle fuel, heating and cooking. If all power were to be provided by electricity, my (uninformed) guess is that the total annual power requirement would be 2.5-3 gigawatt hours. Solar farms on about 10,000 acres, or 5,000 hectares, could provide this amount of power. These solar farms could start producing power in a couple of years and be fully be up and running within five years.
Of course, solar power works only during the day so energy swaps, i.e. with Turkey, standby power and storage solutions will be required. Swapping with Turkish hydro and nuclear power would maintain the “green” characteristics of the TRNC energy market. More and more storage solutions are being devised daily. Over the next 5-50 years effective large scale solutions to storage will be found to allow all power to be solar generated locally.
Funding the construction of huge solar farms should not be an issue because, for example, pension and investment funds would be interested in 100% financing of the construction against a solid long-term power purchase agreement with, for example, a national distribution company.
Prices under a PPA are currently about 0.1€ (2TL) per kilowatt hour. Retail electricity prices in the TRNC are currently around 3.5TL per kw/h (more for heavy users) or 0.16€.
Apart from the security of supply and environmental factors, there are numerous incidental benefits:
- The elimination of the polluting and dangerous emissions from Teknecik and Kalecik power stations, the generators of which are due to be decommissioned in 2024 (but won’t be), and numerous private generators;
- Annual savings on imported fuel oil costs:
- Elimination of vehicle fuel imports:
- Massive reduction of the cost of imported vehicles (see Transport below).
- The creation of 5,000 hectares of shaded land under the solar panels which is suitable for environmental and agricultural purposes.
- Reduction to zero of CO2 emissions from power production.
Solar electrification can be rapid without a huge drain on the public purse.
Other steps which should be linked to electrification are: –
- Banning all motor vehicles within urban areas except for public service vehicles (buses, taxis etc.) electric bikes, trikes and scooters. This ban should apply to private cars whether or not electric. Transport between urban centres could also be limited to community vehicles including buses, taxis, road trains etc. This is cost free to government as vehicles and fares would be provided, directly or indirectly, by the consumers. Towns freed from parked cars, single occupant vehicles, traffic pollution and noise but with a canopy of trees would become a pedestrian heaven. People are designed to walk!
- Effective regulations must be introduced, as a matter of urgency, to require all new buildings to be climate proof so that energy use for heating and cooling is reduced, if not eliminated. Wood and gas fuelled heating should be banned. Regulation is cost free to government and over a generation most properties would become energy efficient.
The second “S” ace is the Sea.
The TRNC is surrounded by, very roughly, 7,000 square kilometres of sea within its 12-mile territorial sea and much more within its exclusive economic zone (no doubt, not internationally recognised) . The land area is only about 3,300 square kilometres of which, perhaps, 1,000 are mountainous.
The contributions that the sea can make are staggering.
- The sea already moderates the temperature of the island but it can be used to dramatically reduce further the temperature. Israel has successfully used artificial “hedges” and building fascias through which sea water drips. As the water evaporates the air is cooled by up to 10°C reducing stresses on plants in otherwise open fields. If used in built-up areas, in conjunction with massive tree planting, towns and cities would become cooler, beautiful and wonderful places to saunter around even in mid summer. The “hedges” can be made from waste plastic and agricultural by-products such as straw or bush trimmings. The residual salty water goes back to the sea. Cooling Nicosia this way is more of a problem than the coastal towns but, still, it is only 20km from the sea easily reached by pipeline. Towns and cities should become forests with houses in them instead of concrete deserts with a few oleanders. Trees planted now should start to have a noticeable effect within 10 years which grows as the trees grow.
- Seawater can be desalinated to different degrees of purity. This is, at present, fairly energy intensive. However, low quality desalinated water can be used on salt tolerant crops the value of which exceed the extra cost of desalination. Technology improvements over time and abundant energy should improve the contribution of desalination.
There are numerous varieties of seaweed that would grow in the seas off the TRNC coast, to provide truly gargantuan amounts of food material, both human, animal and marine.
- 15 kilos of wet seaweed per square metre is achievable, or 150 tonnes per hectare, plus fish; compared to about six tonnes for maize with no fish!
- Organic humus,
- Specialist drugs,
- Valuable internationally saleable carbon credits,
- Healthy environments for fish, crustaceans and other useful and edible marine life.
In context, these marine fields are three times the size of the land based agricultural acreage; they need no water, they need no fertiliser and they can be harvested several times a year. Developing the seas can provide an unparalleled economic and environmental benefit for the TRNC.
- A clean, bountiful sea would also be a great tourist attraction.
The third “S” ace is the amount of Space in undeveloped areas which can be ref
ashioned to suit a more harsh climate. Open land used for growing cereals, for example, gives poor results and damages the soil further. As CO2 levels rise plants produce less. As temperatures rise and droughts become more severe plants just die. What is required is for the land area to be mostly reforested but with trees and shrubs that are suited to the climate and economically valuable whether for food, timber, specialist chemicals or just beauty to attract tourists. The small population of the North means that unrestricted reforestation is easily achieved. The salt water hedges and other water from all sources would kick-start the “Amazon forest of Cyprus”. The benefits of reforestation include:
- a cooler climate,
- cleaner air,
- soil improvements,
- flood, erosion and water control,
- more valuable crops,
- preservation of endemic species of plant, insect, bird, reptile, lizard, micro-flora,
- long term carbon sinks,
- protection of the endangered tourist.
The final “S” ace stands for “Students”. The TRNC has a network of Universities with young people who can devise, research and implement new ideas for achieving a country worth inhabiting. There are so many opportunities for technological and other advances in solar and power engineering, forestry and agriculture, aquiculture, medicine, construction techniques as to be mind boggling. Many non students are also hard working competent technicians and artisans.
The leaders of the country must show their Students the way and give them the tools including those which may well upset the vested interests within “the System”. Even the vested interests can prosper. They just need to change their vests!
This is a national emergency. Climate change is irreversible but need not be a disaster. Radical action is needed. Like building Rome, it cannot be done in a day but to avoid disaster, work must be started now.
Now show the world the way forward.
2 thoughts on “TRNC Can Lead the World on Climate Change”
It gives me hope that someone in my country is talking about the existential threat facing humanity. It’s a shame however it is a Scotsman doing the talking and not the TCs! Hello Hugh I would love to get in touch with you. My name is Guner Husseyin – you can find me on LinkedIn. MY UK NUMBER IS 07944889986
We hope our article might stimulate the government to publish its plans for our long term battle with climate change. I H Jarss