A chance for Le­banon

Im­ple­ment­ing the Paris Agree­ment will re­quire political will

Executive Magazine - - Cover Story - By Jeremy Ar­bid

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




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