The cabinet on Sunday approved a national program to prevent air pollution, a
plan that the Environmental Protection Ministry said can save about 700 lives
Now that the plans – more than a year and a half overdue –
have received government authorization, the ministry will already be
implementing some elements in as early as the coming weeks, such as a
vehiclescrapping protocol and an overhaul of the quarry rehabilitation program,
the ministry said.
By enforcing such measures to improve air quality, the
ministry estimated that the number of deaths in Israel can be reduced by about
“Air pollution harms all of us, and in order to provide
immediate protection to every citizen, I was instructed upon entering my
position to immediately promote the the national program to prevent air
pollution,” Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz said. “Particularly at
this time of reductions and cuts, the launch of the program testifies to the
importance that we attach to supplying the public with breathable
The Clean Air Law, which passed in the Knesset in 2008, mandated
that the government must approve a national plan to prevent air pollution by
January 1, 2012.
Although the ministry, along with the environmental
advocacy group Adam Teva V’Din (Israel Union for Environmental Defense), had
long ago prepared a comprehensive program, the government failed to bring it to
the table until now. The delay was caused largely by a series of budget cuts
imposed by the Treasury, the ministry explained.
In February 2012, Adam
Teva V’Din and the Coalition for Public Health petitioned the High Court to
compel the government to pass the program, charging that the government’s
failure to speedily approve the program was “unreasonable and constitutes an
infringement of the rule of law.”
Some additional components of the
national program will include encouraging people to use public transportation
and to carpool, creating a pilot program for public transportation on natural
gas and enabling incentives for hybrid taxis, the ministry said.
addition, the program will eventually introduce differential electricity tariffs
that vary according to scope of use, launch a comprehensive examination of
contaminant risks in homes and public institutes and create incentives for using
less polluting fuels, the ministry said.