BEIRUT — Prime Minister Najib Mikati on Tuesday said that climate change will exacerbate the impacts of the country’s crippling economic crisis and called on international partners to help the country transition to a “green Lebanon.”
The consequences of climate change “will exacerbate and multiply these challenges in Lebanon and will impede any improvement in the social and economic situation,” Mikati said in a speech at the COP26 UN conference on climate change, which is taking place in Glasgow, Scotland.
However, Lebanon’s participation in COP26 has largely been overshadowed by the country’s economic crisis and an escalating diplomatic row with Saudi Arabia following televised comments by Information Minister George Kurdahi criticizing the kingdom’s intervention in Yemen. After the interview aired last week, Saudi Arabia banned all imports from Lebanon and gave the Lebanese ambassador 48 hours to leave the kingdom. The Gulf state also recalled its ambassador from Lebanon. Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates also cut diplomatic ties with Lebanon.
Mikati, however, in his speech Tuesday praised Saudi Arabia, saying, “Lebanon highly values the efforts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the series of initiatives it launched to protect the environment and face the challenges of climate change.”
Mikati, who arrived in Glasgow on Monday, has so far held several meetings with a raft of world leaders and officials on the sidelines of the conference, including French President Emmanuel Macron and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Both Macron and Blinken stressed the need for Lebanon to implement urgent reforms to address Lebanon’s economic crisis and unlock billions of dollars in financial aid from the International Monetary Fund.
Environmental experts stress that action on climate change must be woven into Lebanon’s recovery from economic collapse.
“The IMF recovery plan must be a green recovery plan,” Nadim Farajallah, who heads the climate change program at the American University of Beirut, told L’Orient Today.
“The Environment Ministry and the government must ensure that when Lebanon is discussing an IMF recovery plan this includes a plan to move away from diesel power and into renewable energy and hydropower,” Farajallah said.
“Lebanon’s economy needs to recover and it’s important to get out of this economic financial hole, but not in any which way. The recovery plan must be well thought through so that it is sustainable at all levels — economic and environmental.”
Lebanon’s government must reach its targets outlined in the Nationally Determined Contributions, Farajallah explained. The NDCs, which were updated in 2020, list several of Lebanon’s commitments toward combating climate change, including the reduction of its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent and generating 18 percent of power demands from renewable energy sources by 2030.
Environment Minister Nasser Yassin, who is also currently in Glasgow, could not be reached for comment.
Lebanon has been grappling with the worst economic crisis the country has witnessed in decades, which has led to severe fuel shortages and worsening electricity cuts.
A group of researchers at the American University of Beirut reported that the level of toxic emissions in the country may have increased by 300 percent from pre-crisis levels as a result of the increased reliance on diesel generators while the state power provider Électricité du Liban has “shut down its operation almost entirely.”
BEIRUT — Prime Minister Najib Mikati on Tuesday said that climate change will exacerbate the impacts of the country’s crippling economic crisis and called on international partners to help the country transition to a “green Lebanon.”The consequences of climate change “will exacerbate and multiply these challenges in Lebanon and will impede any improvement in the social and economic...