(photo credit: REUTERS)
In a strongly worded letter to the head of the upcoming United Nations climate convention, Adam Teva V’Din (Israel Union for Environmental Defense) on Sunday slammed Israel’s greenhouse gas reduction plans as little more than lip service.
“It seems that the targets that the Israeli prime minister will submit to the conference are declarative and bear no practical significance,” Adam Teva V’Din executive director Amit Bracha wrote to French Foreign Affairs and International Development Minister Laurent Fabius.
The annual UN Conference on Climate Change (COP-21) takes place this year in Paris from November 30 through December 11. In mid-September the Israeli government approved environmental targets to be met by 2030, among other relevant goals, in order to submit its mandatory Intended National Determined Contribution (INDC) plan to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Israel’s targets involve reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2030 – limiting Israelis to 7.7 tons of carbon dioxide per capita. In addition to setting goals for curbing greenhouse gas emissions, the government’s plan involves making renewable energy resources responsible for 17% of the country’s electricity mix by 2030, as well as reducing overall electricity consumption by the same percentage. The targets also include a 20% decrease in private vehicle usage.
The government allocated the program an initial budget of NIS 300 million for four years.
Participant nations in COP-21 are aiming to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement to ensure global warming does not surpass 2°C. The summit will be the 21st such annual conference to occur as a result of the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, during which countries adopted the UNFCCC. Prior to COP-21, all participant nations were expected to submit their INDC plans.
Although the Israeli cabinet approved the country’s greenhouse gas targets in September and submitted them to the UNFCCC, the government’s decision also required that a detailed plan to meet these targets be approved within 45 days, Bracha wrote in his letter.
“Unfortunately, to date, said plan has not been approved by the government,” he said. “We would like to therefore suggest that after the Conference of the Parties, all states will be required, and in our matter Israel, to submit a practical and binding plan to the secretariat, wherein each state shall detail the steps it will take to meet its reduction targets.”
Although acknowledging that Israel does not emit significant amounts of greenhouse gases relative to the rest of the world, Bracha said the country’s per capita emissions remains high and must be reduced. In a 2010 government decision, Israel approved a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 20% by 2020, yet budgetary constraints eventually led to that program’s collapse, he explained.
“We all hope for a fruitful Paris conference and that the COP will successfully agree on an important and binding agreement, which will lead to a significant reduction in emissions as part of the global struggle against climate change,” Bracha added.