Photo Credit: Iga Gozdowska / WeMeanBusiness
International delegates cheer the December 12, 2015 Paris Agreement.

MK Alon Tal (Blue & White), chairman of the Knesset Health Committee’s Subcommittee on the Effect of the Environment and Climate on Public Health, on Monday criticized the government’s disappointing target resolution of a 27% reduction in fossil fuels for 2030, compared with a 45% reduction pledged by countries around the world who signed the 2015 Paris Agreement.

MK Tal said that “when it came to the Government’s commitment in the [2021] Glasgow Climate Pact, I thought things would be different. After all, people understand that we’re rushing toward an abyss. But the expectations were matched only by the level of disappointment. There isn’t even a clause that requires the Knesset’s approval for changing the targets. Emission reduction plans by the Government ministries remain voluntary. If a minister feels like preparing a climate plan—good for him; if he doesn’t want to, that’s also fine.”


MK Mossi Raz (Meretz) said: “We have seen examples of the climate crisis around the world and in Israel. The Government has had various achievements, but I would like to see a more significant climate law. And I am doubtful whether it will pass because we didn’t even meet the objectives that we set in the past. We have to prepare seriously for this issue.”

Mariana Bergovoy of the State Comptroller’s Office presented the State Comptroller’s report on the global climate crisis, its ramifications, and the state’s preparations and actions on the issue. Bergovoy said: “No comprehensive economic evaluation was conducted in Israel on the ramifications of the climate crisis and its risks for the financial system in Israel. The Mediterranean region is the second most likely in the world to be harmed severely by the climate crisis. There is no across-the-board inculcation of the crisis’s ramifications in the Government’s decision-making. This is not just an environmental crisis; it is expected to harm systems in all areas of life. Israel has set its policy mainly through Government resolutions, and in most cases, the implementation was partial or non-existent. In terms of health as well, plans were not carried out; only 16% of 300 clauses decided upon were implemented.”

Attorney Tzach Ben-Yehuda of the Knesset Research and Information Center told the subcommittee: “A review of legislation around the world related to the climate crisis shows that in many countries, research and consulting bodies were formed for governments on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Additional tools adopted include investment in research and development of clean energies, mechanisms for encouraging [the use of] renewable energy technologies, passing environmental legislation, setting targets for emissions reduction by 2050, and more.”

Shuli Nezer of the Ministry of Environmental Protection said about the memorandum of law for the proposed climate bill: “This is one of the most important laws, in national, economic and social terms, that we will lay on the Knesset’s table in the coming year. We were mindful of the State Comptroller’s report when preparing the memorandum of law, and in the end, one of the conclusions was that overall governmental activity is necessary to make a deep-seated change. The law establishes targets of zero emissions by 2050, and the economy will have to advance and adapt itself to that target. Our aspiration in the ministry is to be as close as possible to the targets endorsed at the Glasgow conference. Within the law, we also created mechanisms for cooperation between the various ministries.”

Ministry of Finance representative Iliya Katz told the subcommittee: “There is an investment of budgets in infrastructure and transportation, such as electrification of trains and buses, and a great many regulatory measures have been approved to advance an environmental-economic policy in a manner that is compatible with the interests of the economy. As for the climate targets that were set, we have to address several challenges that Israel faces relative to other countries: One of the highest population growth rates in the world, high economic growth and cost of living, the need to rely mainly on solar energy while other countries have a diverse range of alternative energies. We are taking action to support this from a budgetary standpoint, and we support the advancement of climate legislation.”

Former MK Dr. Dov Khenin (Joint Arab List), Chair of the Israeli Climate Forum, told the subcommittee: “Overall, the international community usually falls in line with the conclusions of the scientific community, and it sets the path for reaching the targets to which we have committed ourselves. We should bear in mind that the coming decade is crucial all over the world. So, on the issue of Israel’s failure to meet the target to which it is committed, I regret the attitude of the Ministry of Finance representative on this matter. I think that he represents faithfully the ministry’s position. There are always problems and excuses. But we have to do things we can, such as the energy and transportation revolution; it’s true that there are plans, but the progress is very slow.”

Ambassador Gideon Bachar, representing the foreign ministry, said: “The climate law must have measurable and clear targets. A law that doesn’t have these won’t allow us to meet our commitments vis-à-vis advanced countries around the world. It’s important to have a statement in the law about an impact assessment on the climate for future actions we take, and this is also true in the context of the Government ministries’ preparations for the climate crisis. We are in the midst of the crisis, and the expectation and pressure of the international community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will increase.”

Subcommittee Chair Tal summed up the debate, saying: “The committee attaches great importance to climate legislation, but expresses great concern regarding the ability of the current climate law to contribute to Israel’s efforts in the global struggle against the climate crisis and to prepare accordingly. The committee calls upon the Government to conform to the global standard and specify clear numbers.”


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