The Daily Star
BEIRUT: The Cedar tree is, without a doubt, Lebanon’s enduring icon. But the Cedar, like so many other types of flora and fauna across the world, is under threat from climate change.
To raise awareness about the dangers of climate change in Lebanon, the EU and Environment Ministry announced Friday the launch of a photo competition. Head of the Delegation of the EU Ambassador Patrick Laurent and Environment Minister Mohammad Rahhal said that the “Climate Change and Environment in Lebanon” competition was born out of a common interest to combat the perilous effects of a changing environment.
“The choice of the theme for this competition was a natural one – climate change is a top priority for the EU, and in Lebanon the need to tackle environmental issues appears each day more crucial,” said Laurent.
He noted that Lebanon and the EU faced similar environmental threats, especially in the beleaguered Mediterranean Sea. “Climate change will have a dramatic impact on our environment, and this is particularly true in the Mediterranean region [in terms of] – health, agriculture and food supply, forests, ecosystems and biodiversity, coastal zones, water resources and energy production and use will soon be affected,” Laurent said.
Activists in Lebanon have repeatedly accused the authorities of failing to prioritize environmental conservation. They say this is in spite of the fact that the effects of climate change can already be felt, with experts recording Lebanon’s annual precipitation falling in shorter periods and estimating the national average summer temperature to rise by 1.2 degrees centigrade.
The UN Development Program’s 2007-2008 Global Human Development Report warned that Egypt, Lebanon, Sudan, and North Africa could be the nations in the Western Asian region worst affected by changing weather.
Heavily dependent on frost and snow, Cedar trees are struggling to cope with Lebanon’s hotter winters, leading the International Union for Conservation of Nature to add them to their “Red List” of “heavily threatened” species. Continuing deforestation and Israel’s 2006 bombing of the Jiyyeh power plant, which released up to 15,000 tons of fuel oil into the Mediterranean Sea, have only further exacerbated Lebanon’s environmental woes.Furthermore, Lebanon’s growing demand for water is unsustainable. Demand will increase by some 80 percent by 2025 as Lebanon’s population almost doubles in size to around 7.6 million, experts have predicted. The problem is now so critical that Lebanon’s Energy and Water Resources Ministry warned in 2007 that the country could have a water deficit by the end of this year.
Since one of the major causes of climate change is the degradation by man of the environment, the Delegation of the European Union is calling on amateur photographers living in Lebanon to submit photographs showing the harmful impact of the action of man on the Lebanese environment.
The photographs, which should be taken by individuals aged between 18 and 25, will be judged on artistic merit, technical excellence and originality, as well as on the personal vision of the photographer with regard to the influence of man on the environment. The winning photographer will be awarded 1,000 euros ($1,346), with 750 euros and 500 euros also going to the runner-ups.
“The European Union is at the forefront to combat climate change, but its efforts will have only limited effect, if all nations – developed and developing –do not take the necessary step,” Laurent said.
“This joint launch today testifies to the commitment of the environment minister and the Lebanese government as a whole to tackle climate change and other environment-related issues,” he added.
Laurent urged individuals to kick-start the war against climate change by making radical changes in their lifestyles. “The protection of the environment starts with each and every one of us,” he said. “Youth should be at the forefront of this action because it is their planet, that of future generations, that is endangered,” Laurent said.
The deadline for the submission of photos is June 16. The competition rules and participation form can be downloaded at www.dellbn.ec.europa.eu – The Daily Star
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