Lebanon's Second National Communication - 2011
The creation of a National Communication offers countries the opportunity to contribute with technically sound studies and information that can be used for designing mitigation and adaptation measures, and project proposals that can and will help increase their resilience to the impacts of climate change. Activities generally include: V&A assessments, Greenhouse Gas Inventory preparation, Mitigation Analysis or Education, and awareness raising activities. The ultimate goal is the integration of climate change considerations into relevant social, economic and environmental policies and actions.
Agriculture in Lebanon is one of the most vulnerable sectors to climate change due to the limited availability of water and land resources and the pressure exerted by population growth and urbanization. The results of the assessment conducted show that higher temperature, reduced precipitation and high evapotranspiration will decrease soil moisture and increase aridity, which will negatively affect the overall agricultural yield of crops.
- Coastal Zones and Marine Ecosystems
- Water Resources
- Public Health
- Terrestrial Ecosystems
Climate change scenarios have been developed for Lebanon through application of the PRECIS model. According to the model and in relation to the present climate, by 2040 temperatures will increase from around 1°C on the coast to 2°C in the mainland, and by 2090 they will be 3.5°C to 5°C higher. Comparison with LMS historical temperature records from the early 20th century indicates that the expected warming has no precedent. Rainfall is also projected to decrease by 10-20% by 2040, and by 25-45% by the year 2090, compared to the present. This combination of significantly less wet and substantially warmer conditions will result in an extended hot and dry climate. Temperature and precipitation extremes will also intensify. In Beirut, hot summer days (Tmax > 35°C) and tropical nights (Tmin > 25°C) will last, respectively, 50 and 34 days more by the end of the century. The drought periods, over the whole country, will become 9 days longer by 2040 and 18 days longer by 2090.
Agriculture in Lebanon is one of the most vulnerable sectors to climate change due to the limited availability of water and land resources and the pressure exerted by population growth and urbanization. The results of the assessment conducted show that higher temperature, reduced precipitation and high evapotranspiration will decrease soil moisture and increase aridity, which will affect the overall agricultural yield of crops. A decrease in productivity is expected for most of the crops and fruit trees especially for wheat, tomatoes, cherries, apples and olive. Chilling needs for mountainous fruit trees such as cherries and apples will not be met, leading to a risk of failure of blossom pollination and fecundation by up to 50%.
Changes in climate will also lead to increased infestation of fungi and bacterial diseases for most of the crops. Irrigated crops will face water shortages due to increased water demand and decreased water availability for irrigation. Rainfed crops will show either no change or a decrease in their surface area or productivity (e.g., olive, wheat and cherry). Changes in temperature and rainfall will also affect the grazing period and the quality of the pastures, changing the species composition in favor of woody less palatable plants. However, increase in temperature will lead to an expansion of the coastal plantations such as banana and tomatoes to higher altitudes and herders would benefit from a longer pasture season in the mountains due to the reduced thickness and residence time of snow cover.
In order to reduce the consequences of climate change and increase the resilience of the agriculture sector, it is necessary to implement the following adaptation measures: 1) select and introduce more drought and heat-resistant species and hybrids; 2) change planting dates and cropping patterns; 3) adopt sustainable agricultural practices and integrated pest management techniques; 4) elaborate a national rangeland program; 5) enhance genetic selection of local breeds; 6) and promote mixed exploitations. Proposed adaptation measures include policy and legislation options, research topics for improved vulnerability assessment and monitoring, and adapted infrastructure.
The forecasted rise in ambient temperatures would lead to higher cooling demand in summer, driving the peak load up in addition to the increase resulting from the natural growth in population, consumption rates and oil prices. This would in turn put pressure on the power production and supply system to meet the additional increase in demand, and consequently drive the cost of power production up. The increase in total consumption from increased cooling consumption will be 1.8% for a 1°C increase in temperature, and 5.8% for a 3°C increase in temperature. This will consequently necessitates an expansion of installed capacity between 87 and 438 MW. As for the forecasted reduction in precipitation, it would limit the hydropower generation potential, which would jeopardize the government’s plans to increase this capacity. However, the predicted insignificant changes in wind speed and cloud cover are not likely to lead to any potential change in solar and wind energy.
Efforts of the power sector to adapt to the impacts of climate change converge and complement mitigation measures that entail ensuring a 24- hour supply of electricity, reducing budget deficit, and reducing dependence on imported oil consumption. Therefore, adaptation efforts should mainly be directed at implementing the Policy Paper of the Ministry of Energy and Water and the thermal standards for buildings proposed by Directorate General of Urban Planning.
The effect of climate change on water resources is expected to be significant as a result of decrease in precipitation and projected changes in its spatial and temporal distribution, in addition to an increase in evapotranspiration. Droughts are predicted to occur 15 days to 1 month earlier, which will negatively affect the existing water shortage due to urbanization and population growth. The already dry regions such as the Bekaa, Hermel and the South will be mostly affected. A reduction of 6 to 8% of the total volume of water resources is expected with an increase of 1°C and 12 to 16% for an increase of 2°C. In addition, a decline in total and active precipitation is forecasted as well as a shift in rainfall consisting of higher precipitation in November and December, and a steep reduction from January onward.
Climate change will induce a reduction of 40% of the snow cover of Lebanon with an increase of 2°C in temperature and will reach 70% decrease in snow cover with an increase of 4°C. This will have adverse impacts on rivers and groundwater recharge, especially that snow melt will occur in early spring, which does not coincide with high demand for irrigation water such as the summer season. In addition, snow will shift from 1,500 m to 1,700 m by 2050 and to 1,900 m by 2090, affecting the recharge of most springs. The change in rainfall regimes will increase the manifestation of extreme events: winter floods can increase up to 30%, and hot summer days and tropical nights can last at least two months longer. This combination of significantly less wet and substantially warmer conditions will result in an extended hot and dry climate and in an intensification of the temperature extremes.
The main adaptation measures of the water sector include 1) the protection of groundwater from salinization in coastal areas; 2) the implementation of water demand side management strategies to reduce water demand in the domestic, industrial and agriculture sectors; 3) the development of watershed management plans; and 4) the implementation of pilot initiatives to demonstrate the feasibility of alternative sources of water supply and develop necessary standards and guidelines.
The main climate change factors affecting costal zones are the potential increases in sea level and sea surface temperature due to the projected higher temperatures. Sea levels have been continuously rising at an average rate of approximately 20 mm/ yr in the Levantine basin. If it were to continue in the future, it can reach up to 30-60 cm in 30 years, which will have an impact on the sand beaches in the south, and on the coastal natural reserves such as the Palm Islands and the Tyre nature reserves. This will also lead to seawater intrusion into aquifers which will affect not only urban areas but also coastal irrigated agriculture. The potential impacts of climate change on the coastal zone include coastal flooding and inundation during storms, sea water intrusion and salinization of coastal aquifers, coastal erosion and loss of sand beaches, degradation of coastal ecosystems and nature reserves and economic losses in coastal and marine activities such as tourism, agriculture, fisheries, transportation and other essential services.
The main adaptation strategy for coastal zones is the adoption of integrated coastal zone management to organize and control the urbanization of the coast. More specific measures against sea level rise consist of pulling back human activities from the coast through the creation of buffer zones, moving sources of urban, industrial and agriculture pollution away from the coast, introducing effective early warning systems for coastal hazards, and creating protective structures to limit potential damage.
Forests in Lebanon will be adversely affected by climate change, especially that forest stands suffer from fragmentation, pest outbreaks, forest fires and unsuitable practices that already challenge their capacity to survive and develop. The expected changes in temperature and rainfall are expected to be accompanied by a significant change in bioclimatic levels in Lebanon. The Oromediterranean level is projected to disappear from Lebanon by 2080, while the Arid bioclimatic level is expected to increase from 5 to 15 % in area. The most vulnerable forest stands are the upper zone coniferous forests (Cedrus libani; Abies cilicica) and high mountain formations (Juniperus excelsa) and the most vulnerable areas are North Lebanon (Akkar) and Hermel, where a shift in bioclimatic level from sub-humid to semi-arid is expected. Moreover, Tannourine and Arz el Chouf nature reserves will severely be impacted by increased temperatures as they are mainly composed of cedar forests. Horsh Ehden will be less impacted due to diversity of its tree communities. Prolonged drought periods will increase the frequency and periodicity of fire events, especially for Pinus halepensis and Juniperus stands. The regeneration rate, overall area and population density of Juniperus excelsa, Cedrus libani, Abies cilicica as well as Quercus cerris, Fraxinus ornus and Ostrya carpinofolia are also expected to decrease.
The direct and indirect effects of climate change include the outbreak of infectious diseases from changing temperatures, increased morbidity and mortality from heat and other extreme weather events, malnutrition from droughts and floods that affect agriculture and other water-borne and rodent-borne diseases related to scarcity of clean water. In addition, changing patterns in rainfall and temperature can cause the proliferation of vector-borne diseases such as Malaria and Dengue fever. The average mortality caused by increases in temperatures is expected to range between 2,483 and 5,254 additional deaths/year between 2010 and2030. Vulnerable population groups, especially the elderly and people living in socio-economically deprived areas, in semi-arid areas and in areas with lower access to health services are more at risk as a result of their high sensitivity and low adaptive capacity.
Climate change affects the tourism sector by inflicting damage on a wide range of environmental resources that are critical attractions for tourism. Warmer temperatures and reduced precipitation are expected to lead to a decrease in the intensity, residence time (from 110 days to 45 days with a warming of 2oC) and thickness of the snow cover in the mountains of Lebanon thus shortening the skiing season, which is the key attraction for tourism during winter. Climate change can also provoke the loss of natural attractions, reduce ecotourism activities and impinge on the livelihoods of the communities. In addition, sea level rise may inflict damage on the touristic attractions located on the shore and sandy public beaches and can cause coastal erosion and structural damage to national archaeological heritage.
Human Settlements and Infrastructure
The most likely impacts of climate change on infrastructure and human settlements are caused by changing patterns in precipitation, sea level rise and increased frequency and intensity of storms which inflict significant damages to buildings and public infrastructure. These impacts can cause inundation of coastal settlements and buildings, disruption of operation at the airport and damages in the transport infrastructure, water and wastewater networks. They can also increase the risk of floods, mudslides and rockslides. The related socio-economic impacts include a reduction of the quality of life due to financial losses in the infrastructure supporting the different economic activities, and an increase in the cost of living in urban agglomerations.
Key Results and Outputs
- Sustainable development and the integration of climate change concerns into medium- and long-term planning
- Inventories of anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases
- Measures contributing to addressing climate change
- Research and systematic observation
- Climate change impacts, adaptation measures and response strategies
- Education, training and public awareness
Potential Adaptation Measures:
Agriculture and Food Security
- Educational & outreach activities to change management practices to those suited to climate change
- Improve and conserve soils
- Establish seed banks
- Develop and introduce policy measures, including taxes, subsidies, facilitation of free market
- Improve pest and disease forecast and control
Reports and Publications
Monitoring and Evaluation
In 1992, countries joined an international treaty, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to cooperatively consider what they could do to limit average global temperature increases and the resulting climate change, and to cope with whatever impacts were, by then, inevitable.
Parties to the Convention must submit national reports on implementation of the Convention to the Conference of the Parties (COP). The required contents of national communications and the timetable for their submission are different for Annex I and non-Annex I Parties. This is in accordance with the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" enshrined in the Convention.
The core elements of the national communications for both Annex I and non-Annex I Parties are information on emissions and removals of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and details of the activities a Party has undertaken to implement the Convention. National communications usually contain information on national circumstances, vulnerability assessment, financial resources and transfer of technology, and education, training and public awareness.
Since 1994, governments have invested significant time and resources in the preparation, collection and validation of data on GHG emissions, and the COP has made determined efforts to improve the quality and consistency of the data, which are ensured by established guidelines for reporting. Non-Annex I Parties receive financial and technical assistance in preparing their national communications, facilitated by the UNFCCC secretariat.