Climate change forecasts for Lebanon suggest the country will see more intense rainfall and unprecedented flash floods. In some areas, people are already faced with regular damage to roads, infrastructure and livelihoods. More extreme weather conditions, including longer periods of dryness, are also expected to severely affect agriculture – which employs 15% of the population.
Lebanon, with a population of just over four million people, contributes only 0.07% towards global greenhouse gas emissions. Even so, per capita emissions are on the rise and have almost reached global averages, and the government is determined to take action. This was made clear at the 2009 global climate talks when Lebanon committed to increasing renewable energy use from 4% to 12% by 2020.
Once developed, Lebanon's six new ideas for Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) will help the country meet its 2009 renewable energy commitment, says LECB Project Manager at the Ministry of Environment, Vahakn Kabakian.
"The NAMA ideas include proposals for hydropower, a wind energy farm, and opening the market for hybrid and fuel efficient cars, and the door is still open for more concepts to come through," he said. "By 2015, we aim to have identified at least eight NAMAs across five sectors: energy, transport, agriculture, forestry and industry."
In Lebanon, where half the country's emissions are created through energy production (53%), but few people have access to a reliable and affordable energy source, NAMAs offer a unique opportunity to address an emissions challenge and a development issue at the same time. For example, regular electricity shortages force many households and businesses to use costly community-based generators. Powered by diesel, these generators pump out a lot of pollution. By boosting the government's power service, Lebanon stands to reduce air pollution and increase productivity by providing people and industries with a more affordable and reliable source of electricity.
Mr Kabakian says there are many "win-win" opportunities like this in Lebanon where NAMAs can be used to rally national stakeholders and to leverage international financial and technical assistance. "From the outset, we wanted to move away from the 'single ministry' model where the Ministry of Environment ends up taking all the decisions and responsibilities," he said. "So, we decided to approach it differently and make the NAMA development process here as inclusive as possible."
One of the Project's first actions was to explain the concept of NAMAs to the country's highest inter-ministerial decision-making body, the Council of Ministers. Getting their support was crucial for engaging different arms of government – from transport to finance – in the process. The Ministry of Environment now plays a coordination role in the NAMA development process.
By May 2013, stakeholders had tabled 13 NAMA ideas. "It became clear that we needed solid selection criteria to make sure everyone understood and agreed on what constituted a 'NAMA-ble' idea," Mr Kabakian said. A workshop brought 35 experts and stakeholders together to discuss the needed criteria and to use it to prioritize the 13 ideas.
After applying the criteria, five ideas were left standing. These included two proposals from the Ministry of Environment – one to transform waste into 75.5 MW of energy and another to promote fuel efficient and hybrid vehicles. The Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation was successful in having their idea to scale-up energy efficiency in the building sector adopted. The Ministry of Energy and Water will seek to enhance hydropower under its approved NAMA idea. The fifth proposal came from the CEDRO project, another UNDP-supported energy effort, to develop a large wind farm producing 500 MW of energy. A sixth proposal has subsequently also been accepted. This NAMA aims to tackle a major barrier that Lebanon needs to overcome if the country is to significantly increase its renewable energy use by 2020.
On what has been learned so far, Mr Kabakian said the Lebanon Project found it was critical to foster wide awareness and buy-in from the outset. Establishing a clear and agreed process with the associated basic information, selection criteria and clear roles and responsibilities in place has enabled the LECB Project to keep stakeholders fully engaged.
The NAMA concept was explained to the country's highest inter-ministerial decision-making body, the Council of Ministers.
The 6 NAMA ideas will greatly contribute to the 2009 commitment to increase renewable energy use to 12% in Lebanon by 2020.