By GREG TEPPER
On the eve of the Copenhagen climate change summit, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss on Sunday criticized the way in which Israel monitors greenhouse gases and climate change, as well as its insufficient reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
In a report entitled "The Treatment of Greenhouse Gases in Israel," Lindenstrauss warned that Israel's failure to reduce greenhouse emissions could "adversely affect" its international standing, "to the point of being subjected to limitations and sanctions."
Noting social and economic benefits stemming from greenhouse gas reduction together with the lack of professional infrastructure needed to monitor climate change, the report recommended that "both the network of observation and monitoring of climate change and the system of monitoring of greenhouse gas emissions be developed and expanded."
The Israeli Meteorological Service's failure to properly monitor climate change appears to have been born in red tape, the report concluded. The service operates from within the Transportation Ministry, and as such has no legislated basis, according to the report. It was also stated that a nine-year-old bill from 2000 defining the services to be provided by the meteorological service had yet to be implemented.
Among the report's criticisms was the "cursory" processing of environmental monitoring data. It also noted that historical climate data was often not thoroughly checked.
According to the report, the service "lacks professional personnel and finds it difficult to maintain its network of meteorological stations." It added that the service - which shares the Transportation Ministry's budget - lacks computer resources for forecasting, running models and monitoring climate change, contributing to limited international collaboration.
While not obligated to reduce greenhouse gases by predetermined amounts, the report noted that the government has come to certain conclusions to do so. "Despite the 1996 and 2001 cabinet decisions, and the studies that had been submitted to the Environment Ministry, the ministry did not formulate definite goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions or means for attaining the reduction."
However, the report remarked that activities of the inter-ministerial committee ceased in 2004 without recommendations to the cabinet for the reduction of emissions.
The Environment Ministry received a strong rebuke from the comptroller for lack of planning. Noting that in 2000 the Ministry began commissioning reports for the purpose of emission reduction, the report claimed that "it has still not consolidated a professional foundation for preparing a national plan of action. The situation points to the ministry's lack of effectiveness in planning and managing this process."
Later on Sunday, the Environment Ministry released a statement praising the comptroller's report. The ministry noted that other government ministries which have the authority to implement recommendations of the Environment Ministry fail to do so.
The statement added that while the UN has not requested that Israel reduce greenhouse emissions, it hopes that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will take steps encouraging a plan of action on the matter.
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