BEIRUT — Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said on Tuesday that Lebanon is vulnerable to climate change effects that could trigger a crash in Lebanon's gross domestic product, exacerbating its current crises.
Speaking at COP27, the UN conference being held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, the premier pledged Lebanon's commitment to prioritizing adaptation measures, the state-run National News Agency reported.
Delegates from nearly 200 countries have gathered at COP27 to discuss the fight against global warming. The conference runs until Nov. 18.
In his speech on Tuesday, Mikati underlined that Lebanon is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, pointing out that "climate change will cause a 14 percent decrease in Lebanon’s GDP by 2040, and a further decrease to 32 percent by 2080," as estimated by the Lebanese Environment Ministry.
Mikati thanked Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for organizing COP27, adding that "climate change will double the severity of the current impasses and crises, which requires resolute action by everyone in the short and future term."
'Stay away from dams'
Lebanon's premier also said that his country "is committed to prioritizing adaptation measures, such as combating desertification, managing water resources, and helping farmers increase their resilience to climate impacts over the next decade," indicating that Lebanon is ready to expand cultivated areas, "as well as increasing ponds to collect winter rains ... staying away from [making] dams, which do not fit the Lebanese geographical reality.”
Several of Lebanon's dams were built during the past decade,while the Ministry of Energy was headed by officials close to the Free Patriotic Movement. Most of the dams have proven ineffective. FPM and Mikati are also currently at odds in the context of cabinet formation.
Mikati claimed that "Lebanon was one of the first Arab countries to develop an action plan to support renewable energy in 2010, and now has advanced regulatory mechanisms for this purpose compared to many countries in the Middle East and North Africa."
Mikati also said that — despite Lebanon's economic crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Beirut 2020 port explosion that hindered the country's commitment to the action plan — "the Lebanese government has taken great strides in its response to combating climate change, as part of our national commitment with other countries. Last year we made our Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), which is a key component of countries' global commitment under the Paris Agreement."
Mikati said that his cabinet has established "the Lebanon Green Investment Facility," calling on countries and donors to invest in and help finance it. He also indicated that "Lebanon has unconditionally committed to generate 18 percent of its energy needs (i.e. electricity demand) and 11 percent of its heating needs from renewable energy sources by 2030. In the updated NDC, the projected emission limit in 2030 ranges from 30 percent to a minimum of 20 percent."
On average, the state-run Électricité du Liban supplies Lebanese households with only a few hours of electricity each day.