While Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu praised Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan for leading a green revolution, environmental experts slammed the government for acting against so many of the ministry’s policies.

“If you look back at the data from 2009 and consider what has been done over the past four years, you will see a genuine revolution. I call this a green revolution,” said Netanyahu at Sunday’s cabinet meeting, during which officials discussed the Environmental Protection Ministry’s progress.

Over the past four years, the ministry’s main objectives have included transforming waste into a valuable resource; initiating a green growth strategy; reducing risks posed by hazardous substances; conserving beaches and open spaces; increasing environmental enforcement; assessing climate change; and educating toward a sustainable lifestyle, according to an Environmental Protection Ministry presentation.

Netanyahu praised the ministry for covering so many areas in such great depth, particularly stressing recycling and municipal parks as successes.

As far as waste goes, the ministry was pleased at accomplishing waste separation at source in 40 municipalities, as well as constructing 18 facilities that generate 30 megawatts of energy of waste. Looking toward the future, the ministry aims to have 3 million homes using the dry- and wet-waste separators by the year 2020, partaking in a modern and sophisticated waste market.

In addition, ministry officials would like to see a increase in the use of recycled materials by the government, and a maximization of green energy production reaching 200 megawatts.

Green growth is on its way after the ministry launched a national green growth plan, but many elements are still in progress, including creating an educational center for green growth and advancing green building, the ministry said.

Looking at the presence of hazardous substances, the ministry praised the implementation of the Clean Air Law, as well as a vehicle-scrapping program that has already removed 27,000 gas guzzlers from the road.

Meanwhile, ministry officials also stressed that they have launched the Asbestos Hazards Prevention Law, beginning the Western Galilee asbestos cleaning process with a NIS 300 million budget.

Looking toward the future, the ministry plans to launch contaminated lands legislation, evacuate the ammonia tank from Haifa and approve a national program to reduce air pollution, the office said.

In the open spaces and beaches category, the ministry information noted successes in Kishon River cleaning, Beersheba park development, Ariel Sharon Park establishment, Dead Sea rehabilitation, coastal cliffs protection and creation of a fund for open spaces.

Moving forward, ministry officials said they would like to integrate the management of the country’s natural resources and supervise oil and gas drilling.

Citing a number of environmental laws that have been enforced during this administration, ministry officials said they would like to see a strengthening of local environmental enforcement in particular in the future.

In response to the Environment Ministry’s presentation, Adam Teva V’Din (Israel Union for Environmental Defense) executive director Amit Bracha agreed that the ministry headed by Erdan has generated “significant environmental change and revolutions in many areas.”

Some areas cited by Bracha include the separation at source program, the preparation of a plan to reduce air pollution, activities for saving the Dead Sea and the launch of a green growth policy.

“The main problem lies in the huge gap between the important activity of the Environmental Protection Ministry toward promoting the subjects, and the anti-environmental attitude of the Israeli government, headed by the finance minister,” Bracha told The Jerusalem Post.

There is an urgent need for the finance minister and other government officials to recognize environmental protection “as part of Israeli society, health and natural resources,” according to Bracha.

For example, although the prime minister boasts saving Palmahim Beach, the beach is actually still in jeopardy if plans to make the region a national park are not approved. Meanwhile, contrary to the Environmental Protection Ministry, the government has acted against the Clean Air Law by refusing to approve the ministry’s national plan to reduce air pollution, Bracha stressed.

Despite the Environmental Protection Ministry’s efforts to protect the Dead Sea, the government continues to allow Dead Sea Works to profit at the expense of the public in its mineral extractions, paying zero royalties, he explained.

Also against the wishes of the ministry, the government approved the Zemach Committee plan that would allow for the export of up to 50 percent of Israel’s natural gas reserves, Bracha added.

Contrary to the Environmental Protection Ministry’s goals of generating 10% of Israel’s energy from renewable sources by 2020, the government likewise continues to place obstacles in front of companies that aim to enter this sector, he said.

Lastly, the government – and particularly the Finance Ministry – continues to throw roadblocks in the way of approving a contaminated lands rehabilitation law, which would provide a comprehensive solution to cleaning Israel’s polluted grounds, according to Bracha.

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