Israel must start reducing greenhouse gas emissions in 2012

Country must start reducing greenhouse gas emissions in 2012.

reading smokestack298 88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
reading smokestack298 88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Israel will apparently be bound by the follow-up to the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, set to go into effect in 2012, Environmental Protection Ministry Chief Scientist Dr. Yeshayahu Bar-Or told The Jerusalem Post Wednesday by phone from Poznan, Poland. Israel ratified the Kyoto Protocol but does not currently have any binding limitation on its greenhouse gas emissions, since it had been classified as a developing country. The new protocol will obligate both developed countries and developing countries alike to reduce greenhouse gases. The world is meeting this week and next in Poznan in an effort to lay out the guidelines for greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions, country by country. The debate is expected to grow heated, as developing countries and developed countries argue over who must take more responsibility. An Israeli delegation of government and environmental organization representatives, led by Environmental Protection Ministry Deputy Dir.-Gen. Yossi Inbar, is attending the meetings. The two-week meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is the halfway mark on the road to a major summit next year in Copenhagen, at which countries hope to reach agreement on a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol on GHG reductions. Kyoto's first commitment period ends in 2012, according to the UN. Israel will apparently be bound by the new protocol from 2012 forward, Bar-Or said. "We actually have quite a unique status," he said, "On the one hand, we are associated in the world's eye with the developed countries, yet we don't have their status exactly, nor do we have the status of the developing countries. There are very few nations with the same status we have. "There is an understanding that we must not receive the same treatment as Europe, but [we are different] than the developing countries," he said. The ministry has warned that, without a national plan, the country's GHG emissions are expected to rise 63% by 2025 in relation to 2000 levels. Attempts by the Knesset to pass a law to reduce emissions have so far failed. A bill proposed by Internal Affairs and Environment Committee Chair Ophir Paz-Pines (Labor), and signed by 70 MKs, was first stripped of its goals in its first reading and then was not passed on to the 18th Knesset at all by the Agreements Committee. There are two main issues in the Poznan discussions, Bar-Or said. "The debate revolves around who should bear the brunt of the responsibility for reducing greenhouse gases: the developed countries which have 20% of the world's population but produce 80% of the GHG emissions, or should the burden be equal upon the developed countries and the developing countries which have 80% of the world's population but only 20% of the GHG emissions," he said. The goal is to allow no more than a two-degree Celsius rise in world temperature this century, he said. To that end, the developed countries, led by the EU, are championing a 30% GHG reduction in relation to 1990 levels by 2030, Bar-Or said. But the developing countries want a higher drop for the developed countries ranging from 25-40%, while developing countries would have a lower goal and a longer time to meet it. "I imagine the final goal will be somewhere in the middle," he said. The aim of the two-week meeting is to produce a list of countries with their target levels and time frames they should aim for, Bar-Or said. However, "the success of this meeting is not yet assured," he said. The other issue being vehemently debated is the amount of investment by the developed countries in the developing countries to reduce GHG. The developing countries want a massive transfer of mitigation and adaptation technologies as well as capacity-building technologies, the chief scientist said. This week, the lower-level professionals are meeting to hammer out the guidelines. Next week, the ministers show up. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is expected to make an appearance as well. Bar-Or noted that there has been a fundamental shift in the tone of discussions this time, in comparison with previous years. "No one is talking about whether climate change exists or whether we have to reduce emissions. They are talking about how much and when - that's a huge difference from just a few years ago," he said.