Israel yet to ratify universal Paris climate accord

Agreement to go to Knesset after it returns from recess; PA approved deal already in April.

Hundreds of environmentalists arrange their bodies to form a message of hope and peace in front of the Eiffel Tower as the World Climate Change Conference 2015 convened at Le Bourget near the French capital (photo credit: REUTERS)
Hundreds of environmentalists arrange their bodies to form a message of hope and peace in front of the Eiffel Tower as the World Climate Change Conference 2015 convened at Le Bourget near the French capital
(photo credit: REUTERS)
With the Paris climate accord set to take effect in just one month, Israel and 20 other OECD countries still have yet to ratify the agreement.
The universal climate agreement, which determined that the global temperature rise must be kept “well below 2°C,” was adopted by world leaders on December 12 at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change – also known as the Conference of Parties 21. The 191 parties to the agreement, including both Israel and the Palestinian Authority, signed the accord on April 22 at the UN Headquarters in New York.
On Wednesday night, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC, announced that the agreement will be enforced beginning November 4, 30 days after at least 55 parties – who account for a total of at least 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions – have ratified the accord.
As of that night, 74 parties had ratified the agreement, with 11 jumping on board that day: Austria, Bolivia, Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, Hungary, Malta, Nepal, Portugal and Slovakia. Two of the world’s top emitters, the United States and China, both ratified the document on September 3, while India did so on October 2.
The Palestinian Authority ratified the agreement on April 22.
Israel is far from the only OECD country that has yet to ratify the accord. Despite the fact that the larger EU has ratified the agreement, 20 OECD nations, in addition to Israel, still have not done so: Australia, Belgium, Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
Regarding the fact that Israel has not yet ratified the accord, the Environmental Protection Ministry stressed that the country did, however, sign the agreement on April 22, the first official signing date.
“Then-environmental protection minister Avi Gabbay signed the convention on behalf of the Israeli government,” a statement from the Environmental Protection Ministry said.
“The agreement is expected to be placed on the Knesset table immediately upon return from the recess, as part of the ratification process, and after [that] it can be transferred for ratification in a government decision,” the statement continued.
“We hope that we will manage to finish the procedure by November, when the UN Conference on Climate Change will be held in Morocco.”
The Paris climate agreement focuses on curbing greenhouse gas emissions, in order to ensure that the global temperature rise is kept “well below 2°C.”
Prior to COP-21, all participant nations were expected to submit their Intended National Determined Contribution plans to the UNFCCC, the terms of which were permitted to vary according to their individual national conditions.
The final agreement determined that countries must “pursue domestic mitigation measures, with the aim of achieving the objectives of such contributions.” While developed countries must do so “by undertaking economy- wide absolute emission reduction targets,” developing countries are allowed more leeway but encouraged to continue improving their mitigation efforts according to varying national circumstances.
While it is impossible to precisely compare the Intended National Determined Contribution targets of different countries – since each nation’s greenhouse gas emission levels vary considerably – the submissions of most other OECD states include more robust percentage reductions than those of Israel.
Israel’s targets involve a 25% reduction in its 2005 greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 – limiting residents to 7.7 tons of carbon dioxide per capita.
In addition to setting goals for curbing greenhouse gas emissions, the Israeli government approved a larger program in September 2015 that includes making renewable energy resources responsible for 17% of the country’s electricity mix by 2030, as well as reducing overall electricity consumption by the same percentage. The plans also include a 20% decrease in private vehicle usage.
Israel may still have yet to officially ratify the Paris climate accord, but in April the government approved a program aimed at achieving its goals, the “National Plan for Implementation of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Targets and for Energy Efficiency.”
In the electricity sector, the National Plan tasked a number of ministries and authorities with taking a variety of steps, first and foremost charging the National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Ministry with publishing a plan for achieving renewable energy targets by the end of 2016. The Finance Ministry, meanwhile, is supposed to work on granting tax benefits to commercial photovoltaic facilities, to be integrated with the Public Utility Authority’s net metering arrangements. Several different authorities are responsible for removing obstacles facing renewable energy development, such as construction issues, large-scale land use problems and bird sensitivities to wind projects.
As far as energy efficiency is concerned, the Finance Ministry is working on creating 10-year government guarantees, totaling NIS 500 million, to leverage investment loans in efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions reductions.
The operation of this guarantee mechanism is already supposed to occur by the second half of 2017, according to the program. Together with the Finance and Economy ministries, the Environmental Protection Ministry was tasked with launching a NIS 300m. grant fund to incentivize investments in efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions reductions. A number of other efficiency measures, such as financial incentives and green building regulation updates, are also key components of the implementation plan.
In the transportation sector, the Transport and Finance ministries must formulate a plant to promote public transportation use and reduce private car mileage by the end of June 2017.
The plan also encourages the creation of economic incentives and changes in tax policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by transportation and advance the infrastructure necessary to changing the country’s fuel mix.
Although describing the Paris climate accord as a “long-term commitment and declaration of the end of an era of dirty energies,” Greenpeace Israel slammed the country for lagging behind other OECD nations in its targets.
“Unfortunately, Israel remains behind in the global effort, and set goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions that are among the lowest in the OECD,” a statement from the organization said.
“It is not too late for a turnaround: with the combination of technological innovation and abundant sunshine, leading a renewable energy revolution must become a national objective.”
“The wealthy countries are obligated to support the weaker countries and emerging markets, in order to ensure that we will stand by the mission of leaving the Earth in secure borders,” the statement added.