(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Israel may be a leader in clean-tech and innovation, but the country is not effectively implementing its own technologies and commitments to fight climate change, MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) said on Wednesday.
Horowitz made these comments ahead of his trip to Washington, D.C., where he will represent Israel on Thursday at the 2nd GLOBE Climate Legislation Summit, taking place at the United States Senate. Legislators from more than 50 countries will gather at the convention, led by Senator Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts), which follows up on the 1st GLOBE Climate Legislation Summit in London last year. Behind the convention is the London-based Global Legislators Organization (GLOBE International), an international organization that includes parliamentarians from more than 80 countries, who have expressed commitment to overseeing and implementing laws advocating sustainable development.
At the summit, the legislators will receive a copy of the 700-page 4th edition of the GLOBE Climate Legislation Study, which was put together with contributions from 66 countries, who account for 88% of the greenhouse gas emissions in the world. The study, produced in partnership with the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics, will be made available to the public early on Thursday morning, according to GLOBE International.
The study unveils significant progress particularly in sub-Saharan African nations and in Latin America, stressing that climate change legislation is “shifting from industrialized countries to developing countries and emerging markets.” All in all, the report indicates substantial legislative progress in eight of the 66 countries and some positive advances in 19 others.
Horowitz is representing Israel and the convention, due to his position as head of the Knesset’s Environmental-Social Lobby as well as his membership on the steering committee of the Green Knesset project, which aims to transform the parliament building into a sustainable workplace.
“The climate crisis is happening here and now, right before our eyes,” Horowitz said in a statement prior to the summit. “The entire world already understands that we must budget resources toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions and curbing climate change.”
Although the GLOBE Climate Legislation Study will actually unveil significant progress on climate change in many countries, Horowitz expressed distress that advancement in Israel is not equally encouraging. Israel committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020, yet the government recently froze the budget for its program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, he pointed out.
Meanwhile, targets to rely 5% on renewable energy sources by 2014 did not pan out, Horowitz added. “Unfortunately, so far Israel is not part of the global trend,” Horowitz said. “Israel promised the international community clear targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but it does not implement its commitments. Even programs already approved by the government do not receive budgets.”
Although mentioning significant pieces of environmental legislation that Israel has passed in recent years, the section of the report focusing on Israel mentions that the country still “faces a number of challenges that require clear and robust energy and climate policies.” Among these challenges are an average population growth rate of 1.8% per year, climbing energy demands and high emission levels per capita, the study explains. Joining the OECD in 2010 has improved Israel’s environmental progress, because the country has been required to undertake several environmental commitments as part of its membership, the study acknowledges.
Israel may be responsible for less than 1% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions, yet this figure does not justify the state’s disregard to its greenhouse gas program, particularly during an arid and warm winter, Horowitz stressed.
“Beyond the damage to the environment, this is also a missed opportunity from an economic perspective,” he said, noting that Israel is a leader in the development of renewable energy technologies. “Investors from around the world are interested in Israeli innovation, but unfortunately, the State of Israel at this time prefers to invest in older technologies that are older, more polluting and cheaper. This is a short-term perspective, and it is wrong and harmful.”
In his speech to the participants, Horowitz intends to convey similar sentiments regarding Israel’s slow enforcement of environmental laws, Nadav Dishon, an adviser to Horowitz, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. Dishon spoke with the Post on behalf of Horowitz that day because the MK was aboard a flight en route to the US at the time.
During the summit, at which Secretary of State John Kerry will also address participants, Dishon said that the legislators will be establishing a new partnership among them, with the assistance of the United Nations and the World Bank, to assist parliamentarians around the world with creating and applying environmental laws.
“I welcome the establishment of an international partnership and hope that it will bring about an acceleration in climate legislation in Israel,” Horowitz said.