In the year of 2013, Lebanon emitted 26,285 Gg of CO2eq with the most substantial GHG emitted being carbon dioxide. The primary manner through which carbon dioxide was generated was through the burning of fossil fuels. The main contributor to green house gas emission is the electricity sector followed by the transport sector which contributed 56% and 23% respectively thus accounting for almost 80% of all GHG emitted. Other sectors with a sizeable contribution to the greenhouse effect were industrial processes, waste management, and agricultural processes. GHG Emissions in Lebanon increased 255% between 1990 and 2013 (from 7.39 MtCO2e in 1990, to 26.29 MtCO2e in 2012). Throughout the years, energy has remained the largest contributor to GHG emissions, contributing to 75% of total emissions in 1990 and 89% of total emissions in 2013. Lebanon’s GDP increased at a slightly greater rate than total GHG emissions from 1990 ($9,106 million) to 2012 ($32,058 million), signaling that carbon intensity has decreased relative to 1990.
By adopting the PRECIS model, climate change projections have been developed for Lebanon. According to this model, between the present time and 2040 temperatures will increase approximately 1°C on the coast to 2°C in the mainland, and by 2090 they will be 3.5°C to 5°C higher than what is currently the situation. Moreover, by 2040, rainfall is predicted to decrease by an average of 15% and by 2090 it is foreseen to decrease by a substantial 25-45% compared to the present-day. As a result of these conditions, a hot and dry climate shall extend beyond what is the norm today. Also, temperature and precipitation extremes will most likely intensify in an unpredicted manner.
Agriculture in Lebanon is one of the most vulnerable sectors affected by climate change because of the scarcity of water and land resources and the growing pressure exerted by population expansion. Decreased soil moisture in addition to increased aridity due to higher temperatures and reduced rainfall will ultimately affect the agricultural yield of crops, specifically wheat, tomatoes, cherries, apples, and olives. For example, fruit trees like cherries and apples need a chilling, mountainous environment to be capable of bearing fruit. If such conditions are not met, failure of pollination will increase by up to 50%. Furthermore, changes in the climate will lead to increased infestation of fungi and bacterial diseases for a variety of crops. Irrigated crops will be affected the most as increased temperatures and water shortages complement each other by increasing the water needed to irrigate crops while decreasing the availability of this water. Considering forestry to be related to natural vegetation, climate change will have a detrimental effect on forests, especially in terms of decreasing availability of land for forests to flourish, pest overgrowth, and forest fires due to increasing drought periods.
It has already been mentioned that climate change will decrease the quantity of water as a result of decreased precipitation and increased evaporation. Delving a bit further into the matter shows that there will be an increase in the number of days of drought with drought seasons beginning 15-30 days earlier than what is currently the situation. The regions of Bekaa, Hermel, and the South shall be affected the most due to existing dryness in those areas. A 6-8% reduction in total volume of water is forecasted with every 1°C increase in temperature. Additionally, climate change will reduce snow cover in Lebanon by 40% for an ambient temperature increase of 2°C and by 70% for an ambient temperature increase of 4°C. This will have negative consequences on river water volume and groundwater recharge. Also, snow melt will occur in early spring which will not coincide with high irrigation demands during the hot summer months. By 2050, snow will shift from an altitude of 1500m to 1700m and by 2090 it will be 1900m which will affect the recharge of most springs. An increase in the temperature by a mere 2°C can result in decrease of residence time of snow from 110 days to 45 days which can have a marked impact on the tourism sector. Less wet and substantially warmer conditions will extend the hot and dry climate encouraging intensification of temperature extremes.
Change in the temperature of the environment can prove to be negative on Lebanese public health as it can lead to outbreak of infectious diseases, increased death from heat exposure, malnutrition from droughts and floods affecting crop yield, and scarcity of clean water with the spread of water-borne and rodent-borne diseases. These circumstances will most likely affect the elderly and those living in arid, rural areas away from robust health services the most with predictive deaths rising from 2,483 currently to 5,245 in the year of 2030.
As for the implications of climate change on the coastal zones, the main challenge is the rise in sea level and sea surface temperature due to the rise in temperatures. Sea levels have been on the rise in the Mediterranean basin at an average of 20mm every year leading to an increase of 30-60cm in the next 30 years. This can potentially affect coastal natural reserves in addition to coastal irrigated agriculture. Also, coastal flooding, coastal erosion, degradation of coastal ecosystems, sea water intrusion and loss of sand beaches are potential risks resulting from rising sea levels. It must be noted that these potential risks can affect the tourism sector if not considered in the long run, especially bearing in mind that Lebanon is reliant on its tourism industry.