Preparing for Copenhagen: What can Israel expect?

Preparing for Copenhagen

climate change protest 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP)
climate change protest 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
The world heads to Copenhagen for UN climate change negotiations in two weeks. Where does Israel fit in, and what are its expectations?   Israel will have two main foci at the negotiations: whether there will be emissions limits imposed for fairly advanced developing nations and how Israel can become a technology transfer center for adaptation technologies, Environmental Protection Ministry officials said Tuesday, during a preparatory session ahead of the negotiations. At this point, it looks like the list of Annex I (developed countries) will not be open to changes, Air Pollution and Climate Change Branch head Shuli Nezer said. That means that even if Israel might want to be included as a developed nation, as Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan has advocated, it will not be able to. Instead, Israel will likely have to prepare a National Appropriate Mitigation Plan (NAMA), as will probably be required of all developing nations. Thus, according to ministry assessments, from an international perspective, whatever reductions or slowing in the growth of emissions Israel can achieve will be viewed favorably.     Israel commissioned the global consulting company McKinsey & Co. to assess its reduction potential. According to their analysis, Israel cannot reduce its emissions, but can cut their growth by 75 percent by 2020 if it adopts certain technologies and behavioral changes. From a global perspective, Israel's contribution to global warming is minuscule, since the country is so small. Comparatively, however, Israel's per-person emission rates are comparable to the developed nations of Europe and exceed many of the developing nations. Regarding becoming an adaptation-technology powerhouse, Israel is keenly interested in encouraging mechanisms by which developed countries would purchase such technologies for developing countries. One of the big debates expected at the negotiations is how mitigation and adaptation strategies in the developing countries will be funded. The developing countries have demanded developed countries' funds, while the developed countries want some independent financing and carbon market revenues in addition to their contributions. Israel will likely not be eligible for any direct funding to mitigate climate change, so this is a way for the country to reap potentially great economic rewards based on Israeli ingenuity, Nezer said. Ministry chief scientist Dr. Yeshayahu Bar-Or has contended that Europe will soon face the same conditions Israel is facing now, and so Israeli water, forestation and desert climate adaptation technologies could become much in demand. Israeli assessments, based largely on talks with representatives of other countries during preliminary meetings this year, indicate that a final agreement is highly unlikely to emerge at the end of the 10-day summit. Instead, a "political agreement" will hopefully be achieved, which will be translated into a successor protocol over the course of 2010. The successor protocol will likely set goals of limiting the global temperature rise to two degrees, as opposed to 1.5, and 450 ppm of CO2 equivalent in the atmosphere, as opposed to 350 ppm, Nezer said. That will require a cutback of 50% of global emissions by 2050. However, there are still serious debates as yet unresolved surrounding all of the specific numbers, she added. The successor protocol will likely last for eight years, from 2013 to 2020. Thus far, the average proposed emissions-reduction goals for individual countries range from 16%-23%. That is still below the recommended IPCC reduction rates of 25%-40%, Nezer said. Israel will send a 40-person governmental delegation to the negotiations with another roughly 40 representatives from the Knesset, the environmental NGOs, the local authorities and others also making their way to Copenhagen. At present, President Shimon Peres has expressed interest in leading the Israeli delegation, ministry officials said. However, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will decide late next week whether he wishes to lead the delegation himself. If he does, it is unlikely that Peres will attend as well, the officials said. In any event, Erdan will be in attendance. Israel will also have a side event at the conference on "Adapting to Arid Climate Conditions: Updated Research and Development Practices from Israel."