The last time a legally binding agreement was agreed on was in 1997 in the form of the Kyoto Protocol which set greenhouse gas reduction limits for developed countries. The protocol called on developing countries to take measures that would reduce greenhouse emissions and established a mechanism for developed countries to help developing countries reduce greenhouse emissions (Clean Development Mechanism). The Protocol had two commitment periods: the first from 2008 to 2012 and the second period started in January 2013 and will end in 2020.
The rationale behind not setting legally binding reductions for developing countries was because they have other development needs and most of them have relatively low emissions. However, developing countries such as China (the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases), Brazil, and India have significant emissions due to the massive population in those countries. This led the United States of America, the world’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gases, to not ratify the protocol, States arguing that developing countries’ participation is essential to achieve the goals.
In 2011, at the COP17 in Durban, participating countries agreed to reach a deal that sets limits for both developing and developed countries by 2015. Last year expectations were high at the COP20 in Peru but no agreement was achieved. Instead, countries agreed on a framework for an agreement to be reached in 2015. Countries (developing and developed) are to submit an Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC). The INDC should consist of measures and targets for emission reduction. These INDCs will be used to help develop an international climate change treaty. This is the last chance to fulfill the Durban’s conference goal of developing a plan by 2015.
One of the recurring issues is the role and responsibilities of developing countries. During the negotiations in Peru, developing countries accused developed countries of not fulfilling earlier promises about climate aid. Mechanisms such as the Clean Development Mechanism and Green Climate Fund were designed to assist developing countries in reducing their emissions. The INDCs submitted by developing countries will contain two targets; an unconditional target and a conditional target. The unconditional target is emission levels the country will target on their own, and unconditional targets are emission levels to be achieved with international support.
Lebanon submitted its INDC last September. Even though Lebanon is responsible for less than 0.1% of global emissions, climate change will lead to major impacts on the country. Lebanon has a major portion of its population living on the coast and so a rise in sea level alone could cause massive migration inland in the future. Increased frequency of weather events such as droughts and floods will also affect the country’s infrastructure significantly. The table below summarizes the unconditional and conditional targets Lebanon set in the INDC.
|Unconditional Target||Conditional Target|
|· A GHG emission reduction of 15% compared to the Business As-Usual (BAU) scenario in 2030.
· 15% of the power and heat demand in 2030 is generated by renewable energy sources.
· A 3% reduction in power demand through energy-efficiency measures in 2030 compared to the demand under the Business-As-Usual scenario
|· A GHG emission reduction of 30% compared to the BAU scenario in 2030.
· 20% of the power and heat demand in 2030 is generated by renewable energy sources.
· A 10% reduction in power demand through energy-efficiency in 2030 compared to the demand under the BAU scenario.
Not only will these targets reduce Lebanon’s emissions, it will also have positive economic impacts. The national Lebanese electricity company, Electricité du Liban, is a major financial burden to the government. Many residents are also forced to pay for private electricity suppliers due to the major electricity outages throughout the country. Investing in renewable energy will therefore help alleviate financial pressures in this sector. Lebanon did not benefit from the Kyoto Protocol as other developing countries did. With the large amount of funding available for the coming 5 years, the Lebanese government should use this as an opportunity to develop its ailing infrastructure, most importantly in the energy, water and transportation sectors.