A chance for Lebanon
Implementing the Paris Agreement will require political will
Last month Lebanon, alongside 194 other countries, was represented in Paris for what was expected to be another conference promising to mitigate pollution but delivering little in way of curbing the pace of climate change. After high profile conferences in Kyoto in 1997 and Copenhagen in 2009 failed to obligate countries to reduce pollution, the mood leading up to the Paris conference was for more good intentions and empty promises. Yet, surprisingly, after two weeks of talks the 195 countries agreed to reduce carbon emissions — it’s being dubbed the beginning of the end for the fossil fuel era — a move that could alter the economic landscape for fuel importing countries, like Lebanon.
But to reach the goals of the Paris accord, officially referred to as the Paris Agreement, and limit a rise in global temperature levels, political will is required. France’s foreign minister and chair of the Paris conference, Laurent Fabius, called the agreement a “historical turning point”. Other global leaders — United Nations officials and heads of state, even the Pope — have echoed this sentiment. The highest levels of international politics might, hopefully, drive momentum downward to the domestic level. Lebanon is already working to reduce its emissions largely through renewable energy projects, but the country will need various measures of legislation to continue forward. Can political will at the international level trickle down to Lebanon, or will the status quo of local policy making remain?
Where the Kyoto and Copenhagen conferences failed, Paris succeeded. The overarching result of the accord is an agreement to avert catastrophic climate change by limiting a rise in global temperature levels to no more than 2 degrees Celsius (with wording in the agreement urging the temperature increase to be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius if possible) by the end of the century. To do so, countries agreed to transparent reporting of their emission reductions, to meet every five years to assess and modify their pledges so that the 2 degree (or 1.5 degree) goal stays within reach, and put forth a notion of collective responsibility — no more is there a stark distinction between rich and poorer nations (see Paris accord explainer page 18).
For the most part, this will require massive investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects that, simultaneously, would phase out fossil fuel use and reduce carbon emission. Wealthy economies, like the United States and European Union, have pledged to channel at least $100 billion annually to help poorer economies finance green projects.
Lebanon has already benefited from international financing and more help is expected as the likely momentum established with the Paris accord snowballs moving forward. The European Union granted 11.9 million euros ($13 million) to subsidize interest rates and increase payment periods for projects that fall under Lebanon’s National Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Action (NEEREA) plan — a financing mechanism for green energy projects initiated by the central bank. The World Bank channeled a $15 million loan through the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development to help manufacturers reduce emissions. Parliament met
HAVE PLEDGED TO CHANNEL AT LEAST $100 BILLION ANNUALLY TO FINANCE GREEN