NGOs petition court over air pollution program

Tel Aviv reports drastic improvement in air over past decade.

air pollution 390 (photo credit: Thinkstock)
air pollution 390
(photo credit: Thinkstock)
Adam Teva V’Din (Israel Union for Environmental Defense) and the Coalition for Public Health submitted a petition to the High Court on Sunday morning to compel the government to confirm the national air program to prevent air pollution, which the Clean Air Law mandated must occur by January 1, 2012.
Green advocacy group Adam Teva V’Din, along with the Environmental Protection Ministry, prepared a comprehensive national air pollution prevention program, but despite the efforts of both bodies, the cabinet has not brought the program to a vote, according to the group.
While the Clean Air Law passed in the Knesset in 2008, it stipulated that the government must approve an air pollution plan by January of this year. The Adam Teva V’Din and Coalition for Public Health petition stresses that the Environmental Protection Ministry completed its tasks well before deadline, but that the government is failing to bring the program to the table “for unknown reasons,” the organization said.
“The government’s failure to approval the national program for reducing air pollution is unreasonable and constitutes an infringement of the rule of law, as this is in violation of the Clean Air Law,” the petition reads, adding that human health may also be violated by not implementing this solution. “It is known that environmental quality has a direct influence on man’s right to life.”
The petition also highlights how passing the national air pollution prevention program will save the economy a lot of money – about NIS 1.5 billion – in health expenses that result from air pollution, while the government will only have to invest NIS 690 million in the program.
“As one of the entities who wrote and advanced the Clean Air Law for eight years, Adam Teva V’Din has the duty to act with insistence against the violation of Israel’s Clean Air Law,” Adam Teva V’Din Executive Director Amit Bracha said in a statement released by his office. “It is important to understand that because of the powerlessness of the government, which is not approving the national air pollution prevention program, millions of residents of the State of Israel are being exposed to diseases and even to death as a result of air pollution.”
Also on Sunday, the city of Tel Aviv-Yafo reported that its air pollution has been drastically improving, with 80 percent reductions in the last decade.
The city has seen sharp drops in measured concentrations of nitrous oxides, as well as particulate matter, according to the municipality. Five years ago, Tel Aviv-Yafo was the first city in the country to create a strategic plan for reducing air pollution, which was prepared in cooperation with the Environmental Protection Ministry.
Tel Aviv-Yafo Mayor Ron Huldai said he hopes this trend of improved air quality will continue, and that the Transportation Ministry will support his idea of limiting polluting vehicle movement through the city’s center.