Green groups demand cabinet approval of emissions reduction program

One of the main Environmental Protection Ministry recommendations involves setting a target of 30-percent greenhouse gas emissions reductions by 2030.

Tel Aviv traffic. (photo credit: INIMAGE)
Tel Aviv traffic.
(photo credit: INIMAGE)
The government must act immediately to approve the Environmental Protection Ministry’s recommended emissions reduction targets, ahead of December’s Conference of Parties (COP-21) in Paris, green group leaders wrote in a letter to cabinet ministers on Wednesday.
“We call upon you, members of the government, to approve the national plan to reduce greenhouse gases and thereby take upon yourselves the challenge of coping with the climate crisis, while positioning Israel in an honorable place among the leading countries in the world,” the letter said.
The Environmental Protection Ministry, together with an inter-ministerial team, unveiled the recommendations in mid-July – a precursor toward finalizing Israel’s intended national determined contribution (INDC) plan for COP-21. At the time, ministry officials expressed hopes that the government would approve the proposals by sometime in September, enabling an INDC submission to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) later that month.
One of the main Environmental Protection Ministry recommendations involves setting a target of 30-percent greenhouse gas emissions reductions by 2030 – a move the ministry says would save the country’s economy NIS 125 billion.
Participant nations in December’s COP-21 are aiming to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement to ensure that global warming does not surpass 2°. 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 are expected to submit their INDC plans, the terms of which can vary according to their individual national conditions.
“All of the other countries in the OECD, with an understanding of the great importance of [greenhouse gas reductions] to the local economy and to the global struggle against climate change, have already presented plans – most of which are ambitious and groundbreaking in terms of the targets revealed within them,” the letter said.
Led by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and Life and Environment – the umbrella organization for all Israeli green groups – the letter received the signatures of 12 environmental NGOs.
“For the plan that will be presented to you, composed only of tools that are cost effective – effective, with many advantages despite the more modest goals presented – approval would contribute significantly to reducing energy consumption and to the use of renewable energy, thereby increasing the energetic strength of Israel,” the authors wrote.
In addition to curbing greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030, the recommendations announced in July called for a variety of other related measures.
Regarding energy efficiency, the inter-ministerial committee members found that changes in industrial and in energy management, as well as the production of local electricity supplies through cogeneration, could save Israel about 18% of its electricity consumption costs – or billions of shekels.
Prioritizing natural gas over more polluting fuels like coal and diesel could also be key choices toward considerably reducing greenhouse emissions, the committee determined.
Also crucial to the electricity sector would be the swift transition to renewable energy, the team said. Increasing the proportion of renewable energy sources in the total electricity generation mix to 22% by 2030 would lead to a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to about 20% of the total required reduction, according to the committee.
In the public transportation sector, the committee members determined that the implementation of mediumand long-term development plans in the sector by 2030 would result in the transfer of 25% of private transportation users to mass transit. They also recommended that trucks and buses switch to compressed natural gas, in order to curb air pollution levels.
A final recommendation involved establishing a national fund to increase energy efficiency and create economic incentives for investing in green building.
In their letter on Wednesday, the environmental organization representatives argued how the adoption of such proposals could help reduce energy costs, generate new jobs, create economic growth, reduce expenditures on illnesses caused by pollutants and narrow social gaps.
“Beyond this, the climate conference to be held in Paris provides the State of Israel with an opportunity to strengthen its position and image in the international community, by joining the global climate effort through the approval of the plan and a genuine willingness to implement it,” the authors wrote. “A failure to approve the plan will leave Israel among the only countries that are not taking part in the local and global crisis prevention effort.”