Climate Change is Lebanese Too
Like all the countries in the world, Lebanon contributes to climate change through emitting greenhouse gases from energy, transport, waste and wastewater, forestry, industry and agriculture. Lebanon is also very vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change on its environment, economy and society.
Lebanon’s total emission of greenhouse gases is 18.5 million tonnes of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) equivalent. This constitutes 0.07% of the world’s emissions.
The energy sector is the most important contributor of emissions in Lebanon, generating 54% of the total national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which reflects Lebanon's heavy reliance on imported petroleum products to meet its energy needs.
Road transportation, including all types of light duty vehicles such as tractor trailers, buses and on-road motorcycle, contribute to 21% of the total national emissions.
The waste and wastewater sector is responsible for 9.4% of the total national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The sector, including wastewater, is the largest source of methane emissions in Lebanon, accounting for 87.5% of the total national methane emissions.
The agricultural sector accounts for 5.76% of national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These mainly emanate from the use of synthetic fertilizers.
As for the industrial processes, they account for 9.62% of national greenhouse gas emissions. The cement industry is the biggest contributor.
However, Lebanon is most concerned with climate change when it comes to its consequences.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) defines vulnerability to climate change as “the degree to which geophysical, biological and socio-economic systems are susceptible to, and unable to cope with, adverse impacts of climate change”. Adaptation is defined by the IPCC as the “Adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities”.
In Lebanon, different climate change scenarios have been developed to predict the changes in temperature and precipitation by the end of the 21st century. Results showed that by the year 2040 temperatures will increase by around 1°C on the coast to 2°C in the mainland, and by 2090 it will further increase by 3.5°C to 5°C, respectively. Rainfall is expected to decrease by 10-20% in the year 2040 which will later on reach to a decrease of 45% in the year 2090.
A less wet and sustainably warmer condition will expand the time of hot and dry climate. The summer days will witness a rise in temperature above 35°C and tropical nights higher than 25°C.
In addition, climate change will cause a reduction of 40% to 70% of the snow cover with an increase of 2°C to 4°C, respectively, a shift of elevation of snow residence time from 1,500m to 1,900m and a decrease in snow residence time from 110 days to 45 days. This will influence the rivers and groundwater recharge and will impact the water availability during the summer season and drought periods. Such changes are expected to have diverse effects on Lebanon's environment, economy and social structure. The increase in forest fires, pest outbreaks, and sea level rise will threaten the fragile biodiversity, ecosystems and natural habitats.
With the growing pressure forced by urbanization and population growth along with the limited availability of water and land resources, agriculture is the most vulnerable sector with the overall agricultural yield of crops at risk in which a decrease in production is foreseen. In addition, great pressure will be placed on the power production and supply system due to the higher cooling demand in summer. Water will face a reduction of 6% to 8% of the total volume of water resources with a 1°C increase, and 12% to 16% reduction with a 2°C rise in temperature.
This segment is brought to you through a partnership between the UNDP Climate Change Team at the Ministry of Environment in Lebanon and the NAHARNET team. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any party/institution.
Image Credit: Daily Star