In order to ensure that environmental awareness plays a significant and positive
role in driving public and private behaviors, governments need to focus on
minimizing the total number of regulations and regulators to a stronger few,
British expert Gordon Maddan told Israeli environmentalists at the Environment
2050 Conference on Tuesday in Tel Aviv.
Maddan, who works for the Better
Regulation Delivery Office at the Business, Innovation and Skills Ministry in
the United Kingdom, spoke about the regulatory journey – specifically in
relation to the environment – of the UK from the Victorian era into a modernized
system, and provided strategies for streamlining regulatory processes and
reducing the obstacles posed by them.
Meanwhile, a second British expert
spoke about the importance of conducting careful impact analyses prior to moving
forward with any new environmental regulation.
Environment 2050 is an
annual conference that covers issues of environmental and economic trends and
challenges. It was sponsored this year by Tel Aviv University’s Porter School
for Environmental Studies, as well as the Yuval Levy & Co. law firm, Benny
Moran events company and the government-owned Environmental Services Company for
hazardous waste treatment.
“No one country has all the answers,” Maddan
said. “It’s like we’re part of a jigsaw and we’re all trying to find the pieces
that will make our regulatory system better.”
Maddan began his
presentation with a recorded message from British Prime Minister David Cameron,
in which the head of state asked that the government bring the number of
regulations in general “down and fast,” with the notion that all regulations
must go unless there is a good reason for them to continue.
“We need to
streamline the regulatory system; we’ve got to make them work more effectively,”
For precisely this purpose, Maddan’s Better Regulation
Delivery Office was established in 2007, gradually aiming to decrease the mess
presented by having over 60 national regulators involved in policy and delivery,
Regarding environmental regulation specifically, power over
these regulations in England has always been similar to the situation in Israel
– authority distributed among so many different ministries and offices, he
Currently, in order for an authority to launch a new regulation in
the UK, an office must prove that by implementing that regulation, the
equivalent costs of two other regulations will be eliminated, Maddan explained.
Meanwhile, Maddan said his office is encouraging the business community and
regulators to work together on a local level for a more seamless integration of
new rules and practices.
Specifically looking at environmental
regulation, many people would argue that it does not serve any positive purpose,
noted Donald Macrae, a consultant in policy and regulation to the World Bank and
a former head of the legal department in the UK’s Environment, Agriculture,
Animal Health, Food Supply, Rural Policy and Sustainable Development Ministry
“It does save lives; it does increase human happiness overall –
but it is a very complicated area,” Macrae said.
environmental regulations, authorities really need to work to garner societal
support, often providing incentives for improved behaviors, he
“The nature of environmental regulation tends to be largely
about granting permits to do some level of environmental damage,” Macrae said.
“The converse of that is you need to have good impact assessment to know what
these damages are going to be.”
There are many different ways of applying
and enforcing environmental regulation, such as through traditional mandatory
legal norms or with environmental taxes, according to Macrae. Other modes
include “trading schemes,” in which businesses that have not used up their
portion of “dirty air” can sell their surplus, or self-regulation without a
setin- stone law.
As far as Israel goes, Macrae said that it might have
even better opportunities for honing its environmental standards than does
England, as the UK is bound to the regulations set by the European
“You don’t have that constraint,” he said.
“You can decide
what level of environmental protection you, as a society and custodians of a
country, want to have.”
While international agreements as well as trade
opportunities will influence Israel as it continues to shape its environmental
regulations according to high standards, the country still retains a large
amount of independence as it moves forward, Macrae explained.
crucial, however, not just to create the regulation, but also to ensure that it
is being properly implemented, he added.
While Israel’s environmental
regulations have made significant progress in recent years, there is still much
work to be done, noted Tzipi Iser Itsiq, director of the Center for
Environmental Protection at Netanya Academic College’s School of Law. According
to her, from 1948 to 1988, Israel instituted 10 environmental laws, from 1989 to
2007 also 10 and from 2007 to 2013, eight laws.
“However, the public is
not satisfied with the situation,” Iser Itsiq said.
percent of Israelis in a survey recently conducted by the Center for
Environmental Protection felt that the Israeli government involves itself much
less in environmental issues than those governments in Western Europe, Iser
Manufacturers are by no means happy with Israeli
environmental regulation either.
“How far will regulation deteriorate
us?” asked Amir Hayek, CEO of the Israel Manufacturers’ Association. “The new
government needs in the beginning of its tenure to engage in reducing
In response to Hayek’s complaints, Environmental Protection
Ministry director-general Alona Sheffer-Karo accused the manufacturers of
“whining” and stressed that the formerly weak ministry has vastly improved in
the past four years.
“If the manufacturers are crying about the ministry
doing its job, then although there is awkwardness, difficulty and bureaucracy,
this proves that the Environmental Protection Ministry is strong and resolute,”
Hayek, on the other hand, argued that there is
currently “an absurd situation of excess regulation” and a messy result for the
“There is no uniformity among the regulators, each
district does what it likes and does not see the situation as it appears to the
manufacturers,” Hayek said. “I call upon the new government to deal at its
beginning with regulations and find ways to implement them and regulate more