Israel joins UN protocol on air pollution
Israel commits to granting public access to transparent emissions data in acceding to protocol on air pollution release, monitoring.
Haifa industry Photo: Ariel Jerozolimsky
In a commitment to grant the public access to transparent emissions data, Israel
acceded this week to a UN protocol on air pollution release and
The Kiev Protocol – also known as the Protocol on Pollutant
Release and Transfer Registers (PRTR) – was first adopted at the Aarhus
Convention on May 21, 2003, within the framework of the fifth Ministerial
Conference “Environment for Europe” in Kiev. The protocol aims “to enhance
public access to information through the establishment of coherent, nationwide
pollutant release and transfer registers (PRTRs),” and is the first such legally
binding international tool to take on this goal, according to the United Nations
Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).
By requiring transparency,
instead of regulating emissions output, the protocol’s effectiveness hinges on
the idea that companies will want to avoid the stigma of being large
“The secretary-general appreciates all ratifications and
accessions to the treaties deposited with him, including the Kiev Protocol,” UN
spokesman Farhan Haq said, confirming to The Jerusalem Post Israel’s accession
and adding that the protocol will enter into force for Israel on April
“In order to manage something you need to be able to measure it.
Otherwise you can’t tell if our actions are making the situation better or
worse,” said Steve Cohen, executive director of The Earth Institute at Columbia
University. “The Kiev protocol is an important step to creating a world
community of environmental data. Israel’s acceptance of the protocol reaffirms
its place in that world community. It is a small but significant
As of December 31, 2003, 36 countries, in addition to the European
Union as a whole, had individually signed the protocol: Armenia, Austria,
Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic,
Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland,
Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal,
Republic of Moldova, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro (now separate nations),
Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Macedonia, Ukraine and the
Israel is the second country in the Middle East, after
Cyprus, to join the protocol.
Although the signature period for the
protocol ended on that day, the protocol became open for accession by UN member
states and regional economic associations on January 1, 2004, the UNECE said.
The protocol first became internationally legally binding as of October 8,
While most of the original signatories have ratified or at least
approved, accepted or acceded to the protocol, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina,
Georgia, Greece, Italy, Montenegro, Moldova, Tajikistan and Ukraine have yet to
do any of the above. In addition, two countries that were not original
signatories of the protocol have since acceded to it: Albania in June 2009 and
Slovakia in April 2008.
Following Israel’s decision to accede to the Kiev
Protocol this week, the protocol becomes legally binding to the country 90 days
from the date of accession – January 14, Environmental Protection Ministry
officials, told the Post on Wednesday.
The primary reason that Israel was
a relative latecomer to PRTR accession is that it first needed to enact domestic
legislation that would match the standards of the protocol.
Environmental Protection Ministry staff had intended to advance such legislation
independently as well, a push from the OECD after Israel became a member helped
speed along the process, the officials said.
Israel became an OECD member
in June 2010, and by August 2010 had prepared a draft version of the country’s
OECD and UNECE leaders were impressed at the speed in which
Israel was able to launch its own legislation and then accede to the
international protocol, officials said.
Israel’s internal PRTR
legislation was enacted on April 1, 2012, and by June 30, the Environmental
Protection Ministry had received emissions data from factories all over the
country. Over the next few months, ministry staff verified the information, and
by December 1, the data for approximately 700 facilities became available
Members of the public, factory operators and regulators will all
benefit from Israel’s PRTR, as it constitutes the first time a comprehensive
emissions transfer database is available to all based on a structured
methodology, the officials said. The database will act as a motivator for
emission reduction, and provide the factories with the opportunity to prove the
positive influence that their emission prevention and reduction techniques have
As part of Israel’s overall Integrated Pollution Prevention and
Control (IPPC) programs, the European Union has decided to involve the country
in its twinning program, in which EU members states partner with southern and
eastern Mediterranean countries on specific projects, ministry officials
explained. In a few months, a representative from a German firm will come to
Israel as part of this program to work with Environmental Protection Ministry
staff on both IPPC and PRTR. While EU twinning has occurred in other Israeli
ministries, this is the first such program to occur in the Environmental
Protection Ministry, officials said.
A spokeswoman from UNECE told the
Post that the organization had received notification from the Israeli government
on Tuesday of the country’s accession. The UNECE is waiting, however, to issue a
formal release of the information in accordance with UN procedures, through its
Treaty Section website, the spokeswoman said.
The leaders of
environmental advocacy group Adam Teva V’Din (Israel Union for Environmental
Defense) expressed their satisfaction with Israel’s decision to accede to the
“Adam Teva V’Din is very proud and happy to learn that
Israel has acceded to the Kiev protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer
Register, a law that was first drafted and promoted by Adam Teva V’Din,” Amit
Bracha, the organization’s executive director, told the Post. “The new law will
assure transparency in environmental information, will encourage industry to
reduce emissions and will help decision-makers plan a more sustainable
environment for us and for the next generations.”