A clean sweep for the capital

Life and Environment recognized the cancelation of the Safdie Plan as the major environmental achievement of the year.

Jerusalem 298.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Jerusalem 298.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Jerusalem cleaned up at last week's Green Globe awards, held to honor leaders in environmental protection. The ceremony, organized by Life and Environment, an umbrella organization that includes over 95 groups, was held at the Duhl Center in Tel Aviv to celebrate World Environment Day, a UN initiative. Among those present were Minister of Environmental Protection Gideon Ezra (Kadima), Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski, MK Dov Kheinin (chairman of the Knesset Socio-Environmental Lobby) and former MK Yosef Tamir, who is regarded as the father of the environmentalist movement in Israel. The event was hosted by veteran journalist Yael Dan. Life and Environment recognized the cancelation of the Safdie Plan for the development of west Jerusalem as the major environmental achievement of the year. The cancelation of the large-scale construction project, aimed at erecting 20,000 housing units in the hills of west Jerusalem and which, according to environmentalist groups, would have caused irrevocable harm to the environment, earned Lupolianski a Green Globe. "I thank you for awarding me with the Green Globe. Everything that we've done, we did for the residents of Jerusalem. The municipality and the green organizations are not on opposite sides. We both care about our future and the future of our children. In our collaboration, we have set the path for future cooperation. In this way we will be able to bring about the 'green revolution' in Jerusalem," said Lupolianski. A second award was given to members of the Coalition for the Preservation of the Jerusalem Hills, an umbrella organization of Jerusalem-area environmental groups that played an important role in raising awareness about and rallying opposition to the plan. "All of the large successes are a product of cooperation between the organizations. Everyone brings their knowledge, their expertise, their people, and together we succeed," remarked Life and Environment Director-General Alona Schaefer. "The environmental revolution has arrived in Israel," she continued. "It has arrived and we are all taking part in it. We are taking environmental issues away from the fringes and into the center of the political, economical and business agenda. That is our mandate and our vision - to bring these issues to the forefront, to influence the public debate and usher the environmental revolution into Israel." "We all want to achieve all of the goals we set out for ourselves, but we have to realize that they won't be achieved overnight," minister Ezra said. "Don't send me books, send me a list of your priorities ... and I promise you that I will examine them all and act to bring about solutions." Ezra was a recipient of the Green Globe award last year for his part in the closing of the Reading power plant in Tel Aviv, which despite extensions had failed to switch its power source from crude oil to natural gas. Ezra returned the award when the power plant reopened and received it again when it was finally converted to run on natural gas. The ceremony also included the awarding of the Black Globe Award, given to the person or organization that has done the most harm to the environment. This year the "prize" was given to Nehama Ronen, head of the Ela Corporation, which collects plastic bottles for recycling. The company was accused of consistently failing to meet the requirements of their mandate under the law. Ronen, who was director-general of the Environmental Protection Ministry prior to heading Ela, reacted to the allegations on the popular talk show London and Kirshenbaum, which was broadcast live from the Duhl Center earlier that evening. "The law itself is problematic and needs to be changed," she said. "I admit it, we cannot make the quotas we're committed to. We cannot collect 85% of the bottles. If you want, you can try to find somebody else who can." A lifetime achievement award was given to former MK Tamir for his decades-long commitment to environmental causes. Tamir was the original founder of Life and Environment and started his activism in the 1950s. Awards were also given to Haredim for the Environment (a religious environmental group), Solel Corporation (a solar panel manufacturing company), Citizens for the Environment in Galilee, and the Foundation for Quality of Life and the Environment in Nahariya.