Pollution, climate change cost Lebanon annually $565 million

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Beirut – Environment Minister Mohammed Rahhal said at a conference in Beirut that pollution and climate change cost Lebanon $ 565 million dollars a year.

“The state loses up to 565 million dollars to pollution annually, 100 million of which is due to climate change,” Rahhal said at a conference in Beirut. He added: “The tourism, health and agriculture sectors are most affected by the losses”

The government, which for the first time plans to start a fund for environmental issues, has concrete plans to fight climate change, he added. “We aim for 12 percent of Lebanon’s energy to be produced through alternative sources by the year 2012,” he said, adding Lebanon should capitalize on the wide availability of wind, water and sun.

A 2009 report by Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED) has warned that global warming will have a severe impact on Arab states where water is already scarce.

It said sea level rise will mostly threaten Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Tunisia, affecting “one to three percent of land in these countries.”

Rahhal warned that temperatures in Lebanon were expected to rise two degrees on average in the next four decades, and five degrees by the turn of the century.

Rainfall is also expected to drop 50 percent by 2099 if measures to fight climate change are not put into effect, he added.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri is to head a Lebanese delegation to the global conference in Copenhagen on climate change . The conference hopes to cut a deal to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which required 37 industrial countries to cut heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions.