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