UNFCCC delegation in Israel, evaluating country’s climate data

Environmental Protection Ministry: "If you look at Israel, we are not in a good place."

 delegation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (photo credit: Courtesy of the Ministry of Environmental Protection.)
delegation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
(photo credit: Courtesy of the Ministry of Environmental Protection.)

A senior-level delegation from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat is in Israel this week to review the data in Israel’s Second Biennial Update Report (BUR), confirm its accuracy and recommend the next steps for tracking the country’s climate mitigation efforts.

An 86-page report, submitted this February, discussed Israel’s climate policies and their compliance with the country’s greenhouse gas emissions goals. It was submitted to the United Nations in the framework of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

“As part of the Paris Agreement, a transparency mechanism was established that requires countries to report on the implementation of actions in their national plans to verify that they meet their obligations,” explained Dr. Gil Proaktor, senior manager of the Climate Mitigation Division at the Environmental Protection Ministry. “Developed member states are required to submit the BUR once every two years and undergo peer reviews.

“This is a very serious issue at the heart of all the climate change agreements – to enhance transparency and increase the level of detail included when countries report their progress.”

He said that many developing countries have also started submitting these reports, and he envisions that within the next 10 years, the requirement will apply to all member states.

  United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (credit: Courtesy of the Ministry of Environmental Protection.) United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (credit: Courtesy of the Ministry of Environmental Protection.)

The delegation arrived on May 14 and will stay until May 18. It includes experts with international experience in the technical analysis of these climate reports and expertise in assisting governments in improving their national monitoring and control processes. During the visit, the team will hold professional discussions on the report’s content and meetings with Israeli experts to examine the information so that adjustments can be made ahead of COP28 in November-December.

Israel will be charged with presenting the report at the UN climate summit and discussing how the country plans to implement any recommendations the experts made. The recommendations should include steps for enhancing Israel’s mitigation efforts and measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) systems.

“The Environmental Protection Ministry established a national MRV center in our climate change division in 2016,” Proaktor said. “We reported only a couple of weeks ago that we will not meet our [Paris Agreement] targets without significant efforts, such as passing a climate law, implementing a carbon tax and establishing a five-year budget plan for implementation.”

How is Israel doing in the fight against climate change

According to the ministry report, Israel is likely to reach only a 12% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 2015 by 2030, despite committing to the UN to cut gases by 27%. Moreover, the report highlighted that only at the end of 2022 did Israel reach about 10% electricity generation from renewable energy – two years later than planned. The goal is to produce 20% of electricity from renewable energies by 2023 and 30% by 2025.

February’s BUR showed that total water consumption in Israel increased by 16% between 2000 and 2019 due to the country’s high population growth. Israel’s annual population growth rate is 1.95% – one of the highest among OECD countries.

It also noted that the primary energy supply decreased by 3.2% from 2019 to 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, in general, electricity consumption in Israel continues to increase at an annual growth rate of 3.3%.

According to the BUR, there has been an increase in mean annual temperatures since the 1990s, with 2010-2019 being the hottest years since 1951 and 2018 and 2019 among the seven hottest years on record.

“This is a very serious issue. No one is going to wait until 2030 to see if Israel or any other country will not meet their targets,” Proaktor said. “There are intensive discussions with the UNFCCC to see how countries can be pressed to increase transparency and meet their state’s targets.

“There is going to be a lot of pressure on developed and developing countries” to meet their goals, he said. “If you look at Israel, we are not in a good place.”

Proaktor said that Israel is “way behind the European Union” concerning the level of commitment made by the government toward mitigating environmental damage and Israel is behind nearly all OECD countries.

Israel is one of the only developed countries that have yet to pass a climate law. The most updated climate bill is now in discussion, but Proaktor said he expects it will take at least several more weeks before it could come before the Knesset and potentially pass.

“We believe that, without a climate law, the gaps will widen, and no increased priority will be given to tackling climate change,” Proaktor said.

He noted that the ministry expects sweeping global changes to take place within the next few years, which will make it even more pressing for Israel to meet its emissions targets, like the EU’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism.

This is meant to “put a fair price on the carbon emitted during the production of carbon-intensive goods that are entering the EU and to encourage cleaner industrial production in non-EU countries,” according to the EU.

“I think that countries that do not act now will stay behind,” Proaktor stressed. “Israel must double and triple its efforts to close the climate gaps to maintain a competitive economy.”