L’ac­cord de Paris

Ex­plains the agree­ment to re­duce global warm­ing

Executive Magazine - - Cover Story - By Jeremy Ar­bid

The re­cent Paris Agree­ment is a de­par­ture in form and sub­stance from pre­vi­ous cli­mate change ac­cords; it calls for a bot­tomup ap­proach to limit green­house gas emis­sions. Un­like the 1997 Ky­oto Pro­to­col — a bi­fur­cated ap­proach that legally bound de­vel­oped coun­tries to re­duce their emis­sions — the Paris ac­cord re­moves the dis­tinc­tion be­tween de­vel­oped and de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, al­lo­cat­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity, for the most part, to the lo­cal level.

At Ky­oto de­vel­oped coun­tries were al­lot­ted a tar­get to re­duce their emis­sions, but de­vel­op­ing coun­tries like China or Mex­ico (Le­banon too) were given no tar­get and al­lowed to let their emis­sions in­crease at will. De­vel­oped coun­tries with emis­sion re­duc­tion tar­gets were meant to rat­ify the Ky­oto Pro­to­col into law, but the United States — then the world’s largest emit­ter — de­clined to do so. For much of the 2000s, the agree­ment was sus­pended and cli­mate change ne­go­ti­a­tions ground to a halt.

Then came the 2009 Copen­hagen Ac­cord that saw de­vel­oped coun­tries and the largest de­vel­op­ing coun­tries agree to re­duce emis­sions, but not in a legally bind­ing agree­ment. What had car­ried over from Ky­oto to Copen­hagen was a clean de­vel­op­ment mech­a­nism for car­bon trad­ing. The car­bon mar­ket aimed for cost ef­fec­tive­ness — a re­duc­tion of car­bon emis­sion per dol­lar in­vested. At Copen­hagen the fail­ure to fully ar­tic­u­late a legally bind­ing treaty pushed the price of car­bon into a global down­spin, putting a halt to car­bon trad­ing as a mech­a­nism to re­duce emis­sions.

Not all was lost af­ter Copen­hagen. Part of what was agreed upon at the 2009 con­fer­ence made its way into the Paris ac­cord — fi­nanc­ing. In Copen- ha­gen there was lim­ited trans­parency on the is­sue of fund­ing de­vel­op­ing coun­tries; rich coun­tries agreed to pro­vide $100 bil­lion an­nu­ally start­ing in 2020 to help poorer coun­tries in­vest in green tech­nolo­gies to re­duce emis­sions. But in the years since Copen­hagen, de­vel­oped coun­tries have largely held true to their prom­ise: in Oc­to­ber 2015 the Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Eco­nomic Co-op­er­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment is­sued a re­port show­ing that close to two-thirds of the re­quired fi­nanc­ing was al­ready be­ing sup­plied.

The Paris ac­cord stepped away from re­quir­ing emis­sion re­duc­tions to be legally bind­ing, in­stead plac­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity at the lo­cal level for re­duc­ing emis­sions through dis­cre­tionary con­tri­bu­tions. This ef­fec­tively means that coun­tries, such as Le­banon, will vol­un­tar­ily phase out fos­sil fuel use.

Le­banon’s con­tri­bu­tion to the Paris ac­cord is laid out in its In­tended Na­tion­ally De­ter­mined Con­tri­bu­tion (INDC). The INDC sets forth two tar­gets: an un­con­di­tional tar­get that Le­banon will con­trib­ute to re­duce emis­sions, and a con­di­tional tar­get if Le­banon were to re­ceive in­ter­na­tional sup­port — mainly fi­nanc­ing from the $100 bil­lion yearly fund, but also tech­ni­cal knowhow and tech­nol­ogy trans­fer.

Un­der a busi­ness-as-usual sce- nario — with no mea­sures taken to re­duce green­house gases — Le­banon’s emis­sions would rise to nearly 44,000 mil­lion tons CO2 equiv­a­lent by 2030. Le­banon, as a low emit­ter of green­house gases, set an econ­omy-wide tar­get be­cause it does not spec­ify which sec­tor of the econ­omy emis­sion re­duc­tion must come from, thereby of­fer­ing greater flex­i­bil­ity. The coun­try will tar­get a 15 per­cent re­duc­tion by 2030 — lim­it­ing a rise in green­house gases to 37,400 mil­lion tons CO2 equiv­a­lent — as un­con­di­tional, mean­ing that emis­sions can be re­duced in the econ­omy wher­ever it is eas­i­est. Le­banon will also pro­duce 15 per­cent of its power needs through re­new­ables and will aim for a 3 per­cent re­duc­tion in power de­mand through en­ergy ef­fi­ciency mea­sures.

Le­banon will set more ag­gres­sive tar­gets if it re­ceives fi­nanc­ing from the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity. By 2030 the coun­try will aim for a 30 per­cent re­duc­tion in green­house gas emis­sions; re­new­ables will also pro­duce 20 per­cent of to­tal power de­mand, while en­ergy ef­fi­ciency mea­sures will aim to cut power de­mand by 10 per­cent. Tar­get­ing a 30 per­cent re­duc­tion would see Le­banon lim­it­ing the rise of its green­house gas emis­sions to just more than 30,800 mil­lion tons CO2 equiv­a­lent by 2030.

In 2010, Le­banon’s green­house gas emis­sions to­taled 19,139.27 mil­lion tons CO2 equiv­a­lent, 0.04 per­cent of global emis­sions. By 2014, that pro­por­tion had risen to 0.07 per­cent of the global share. With coun­tries vol­un­tar­ily pledg­ing to re­duce the emis­sions they pro­duce, it is not yet clear how Le­banon’s emis­sions might rank vis-avis other coun­tries mov­ing for­ward.

LE­BANON, AS A LOW EMIT­TER OF GREEN­HOUSE GASES, SET AN ECON­OMY-WIDE

TAR­GET [FOR 2030]

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