Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon

Speech of Ambassador Christina Lassen at the Lebanon Climate Act Conference

- Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Mr Philippe Lazzarini

- Your Excellency BDL governor Mr. Riad Salameh,

- Chairman of the federation of Chamber of commerce and agriculture and industry in Lebanon, Mr Mohamad Chouair,

- President of Green mind NGO, Mrs Nada Zaarour,

CEO of Renault-Nissan Alliance Mr Carlos Ghosn,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is great to be part to this important event today. I understand that I have the honour to be amongst the ‘Power Speakers’ today – I am not sure what exactly that means, but it sounds very nice. And representing the European Union, it is clear that I represent one of the power actors – if not THE power actor - when it comes to sustainable development and the fight against climate change, in particular since the new US Administration unfortunately decided to withdraw its support to the Paris Agreement. This is a loss for all of us – but most of all for the United States – and it makes it even more important that the rest of us are ambitious and work together to fight climate change.  

So thank you for inviting me today. I find events as this one inspiring as it is a great chance for all stakeholders (private sector, policy makers, researchers and others) to exchange ideas and to take stock of the ongoing initiatives to fight climate change. And I would like to particularly congratulate the 11 champion companies of the Lebanon Climate Act. We hope that you become role models and set the standards for the fight against climate change in your respective sectors.

I think that what many of your initiatives show is that, while taking action against climate change, many of these measures also promote a green economy. This generates growth, creates jobs and eradicates poverty by investing in and preserving the natural capital assets upon which the future of our planet depends. So what we did out of need ends up creating benefits for all, and this also why we need to continue to promote climate change measures such as renewable energy and energy efficiency here in Lebanon.

Private sector initiatives such as the ones taken by the champion companies show that Lebanon has every chance to play an important role at regional level. Indeed, Lebanon's commitment to develop renewable energy production capacity to reach 12 percent of the total electricity supply by 2020 stands out in the Southern Mediterranean.

In Lebanon, important steps to fight climate change have already been taken. EU has contributed to several of these through numerous projects on energy efficiency, solid waste management or water and much more. But we can achieve even more together. That's why the EU cooperates with the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Energy and Water and the Ministry of Industry, as well as with many Lebanese partners representing local authorities, the private sector, UN agencies and NGOs to achieve sustainable development goals with particular attention to renewable energy and the fight against climate change.

We all know that energy supply in Lebanon is a real challenge. And if we forgot for a moment the summer heat and the subsequent frequent power cuts would remind us. But the good news is that the "green energy machine" is already up and running. We should encourage that event further, as  initiatives contributing to energy savings and the generation of renewable energy  help to reduce the burden on citizens and on the economy.

However, some policy-related issues deserve more attention in order to boost the implementation of green energy initiatives in Lebanon. In this respect, adjustments are needed to Lebanon's legislative framework regarding energy efficiency and renewable energy.

There is also a need for a stronger institutional setting that would foster investments and upgrade existing infrastructures. These improvements would certainly stimulate the private sector's interest and attract national and international investors, such as through innovative financing schemes that incorporate public-private partnerships.

We hope that the authorities in Lebanon will double their efforts on these important matters. We also stand ready to accompany and support all endeavours for a greener and more energy-efficient Lebanon as we have already done for a long time. In partnership with the Central Bank of Lebanon, the EU is financing the "Facility in support of SMEs energy efficiency instruments" which offers very favourable lending conditions to companies who invest in green technologies. This can serve as an example and an incentive for many other similar schemes all over the country.

Dear all,

Before I wrap up, I would like to say a few words about the European Union's central role in the global fight against Climate Change. The fight against climate change is an integral part of the EU's foreign policy agenda. Through climate diplomacy and cooperation initiatives, the EU aims to build political will and trust to advance global action, ensure the effectiveness of development cooperation, and build capacity to support partner countries in their efforts.

This is why the EU is the largest contributor of climate finance to developing countries and the world's biggest aid donor, collectively providing more than half of global official development assistance.

The specific project which has supported the Lebanon Climate Act, which celebrates its birthday today, is called ClimaSouth and is a prime example of this kind of support. The ClimaSouth project assists 9 MENA countries with the transition towards low carbon economies and enhanced climate resilience. It has achieved a lot already and you, the Champions who have received the Business Knowledge Platform training with ClimaSouth support, are witnesses to this. With this EU support you can put climate action at the heart of your business strategies and investment decision-making processes. This is a great approach that can set you on a pioneering path in your sectors.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The EU will continue to work hard to forge new partnerships around the world, from the world's biggest economies to the most vulnerable developing countries, supporting and helping them to adapt and mitigate climate change. This is good for the environment, good for consumers and good for business.

The EU remains dedicated to accompanying the Lebanese authorities, businesses and civil society organisations on their path towards a green economy. And we are committed to ensuring that this priority is translated into future support to climate change adaptation and mitigation in Lebanon. But we can only do so if there is willingness and engagement from Lebanon’s side to do what needs to be done, and the past years’ ambitions on fighting climate change gives us hope that this willingness is there.

Let us all fight together against climate change, for a cleaner, greener environment in Lebanon and the world.

Thank you for your attention.

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