The Knesset building in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference this December in Paris, some 20 ambassadors from European Union countries visited the Knesset on Wednesday to study the building’s environmental program.
“When we launched the Green Knesset project, it was nice to realize that on the issue of environment there is no coalition or opposition,” Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein told the ambassadors. “We realized that we have to put our money where our mouth is. The Knesset passes a lot of legislation on issues related to the environment, and we realized that by doing very simple things in the parliament building, such as saving paper, we can achieve a lot.”
The Green Knesset project, a comprehensive plan that aims to transform the house of parliament into a sustainable building, was launched in January 2014. The project was initiated by Edelstein and Knesset director-general Ronen Plott, with the guidance of sustainability coordinator Dr. Samuel Chayen.
At the end of March, the project’s leaders inaugurated a Knesset rooftop solar field, with an installed capacity of 450 kW. Combined with the many other energy efficiency measures that have been integrated since the project’s beginning, the solar roof is expected to reduce the Knesset’s electricity bills by onethird by the end of 2015, according to Knesset officials.
“The European Union is deeply concerned about climate change and its impacts,” said EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen. “It is a major threat to our common future, to shared prosperity, security and stability. Addressing climate change is not a luxury but a crucial element for growth, well-being and employment.”
At the UN Climate Change Conference, also known as the Conference of Parties (COP- 21), participant countries will aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement to ensure that global warming does not surpass 2°. In mid- May, the French presidency’s goodwill ambassador for COP- 21 visited Israel, in order to assess the country’s progress on its “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions” plan to be submitted prior to the conference.
“In the run-up to Paris, countries must come forward with their plans on how they will contribute by cutting their emissions and responding to the risks linked to climate change,” Faaborg-Andersen said. “The European Union has committed to a target of cutting our emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030.”
Also during their Green Knesset tour on Wednesday, Gilles Pecassou, deputy head of mission at the French Embassy, declared that countries “must act now” on the climate change issue in order to “keep it at a bearable level.”