A coalition of green groups launched an initiative Sunday entitled 'Green Now!' to start pressuring mayoral candidates to make environmental issues central to their campaign. Municipal elections across Israel will be held in November. The groups will present the candidates with four specific demands, and promise to monitor which candidates adopt them and which follow through once they are elected. They will hold events this week in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Beersheba, Modi'in, and Nazareth. There will also be events on university and college campuses. The coalition's four demands are:
Cleaner air - A 15 percent reduction in air pollution and greenhouse gases every year.
Open space for residential areas - every house should be within a five minute walk of a public park or urban nature park.
Leave the car at home - the creation of walking and biking trails and the improvement of public transportation, so that everyone can reach the center of town in 15 minutes, without moving the car.
Green for everyone - a minimum 25% increase in investment in environmental infrastructure for poorer neighborhoods.
The green coalition pressing for these demands is backed by a public opinion poll which the coalition publicized recently which found that a third of the respondents put health and environment at the top of a list of factors as most affecting their standard of living. The survey, conducted in the six cities in which the campaign will begin, also found at least half of the respondents wanted municipalities to devote more resources to weak neighborhoods, and 40-50% would prefer investment in public transportation rather than more parking. The Rotem Center for Research and Marketing carried out the polling.
Orly Ronen, deputy head of the Heschel Center, said at the launch of the initiative that many politicians had learned how to "talk green," but that there is a big difference between sound bites and true environmental activism. The Green Now! Campaign is meant to challenge the candidates to turn words into action.
She added that the Heschel Center was offering seminars to acquaint leaders with advanced environmental strategies.
The coalition is comprised of 16 organizations, including the Israel Union for Environmental Defense, SPNI, Green Course, Life and Environment - the umbrella organization of environmental groups in Israel, Shatil, and many local groups.