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Israel’s government failing to prepare for climate crisis – comptroller

CM 26/10/2021

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Israel’s absolute carbon emission rates have risen by 103% since 1990, and 12% since 2005, a new State Comptroller’s Report titled “The actions of the Israeli government and its preparations for the climate crisis” revealed on Tuesday.
The report examines Israel’s readiness in the face of the climate emergency, and looks at what measures have or have not been taken by government ministries and public bodies in order to deal with the effects of climate change.
Due to Israel’s geographical location, the country is at an increased risk to feel extreme effects of climate change – some of which have already begun to be felt.
Despite this, State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman revealed that Israel is one of the only developed countries in the world without a budgeted and approved plan in place to fight the climate emergency, and 84% of the country’s public bodies have no plan at all to deal with the effects of climate change.
“The climate crisis affects all areas of life: the environment, the economy, health, transportation and more,” said Englman about the report ahead of its release. “I see the importance of Israel being a partner in the global effort in assessing the climate crisis. We owe it to ourselves and even more to our children and future generations.”

 TRAFFIC JAMS on the Ayalon highway in Tel Aviv. (credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90) TRAFFIC JAMS on the Ayalon highway in Tel Aviv. (credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)

One of the biggest factors in fighting climate change is the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, which are caused primarily by the use of fossil fuels in electricity production and transportation. Despite being part of the 2015 Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty on climate change, Israel has failed to make much headway in the field of lowering emissions.
Of some 29 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries surveyed in 2016, Israel ranked 10th in countries with the highest emission rates per capita, meaning that the emission rates of the country are the same as those of a medium sized country.
Whereas other OECD countries have set absolute emission-reduction targets, Israel’s emissions are measured per capita, which allows the absolute amount of emissions to rise so long as the population is growing, which Israel’s is. This means that in reality, there has not been an absolute reduction in emission rates, even though, while looking at the emission rates per capita, it would appear that there has been a reduction.
For example, whereas Germany’s absolute emission rates have fallen by over 40% since 1990, and Australia’s by 15%, Israel’s rates more than doubled, rising 103%.
Since 2005, Israel’s absolute emission rates have risen an additional 12%, whereas Australia’s fell by 22%, and the EU as a whole successfully reduced theirs by 21%.
Examining the various sectors across Israel, Englman observed that the progress being made to meet targets ranged from “lagging to zero,” with very few targets actually having been set, or achieved.
In 2015, Israel’s Transportation Ministry, under the directive of then-transportation minister Israel Katz, pledged to cut private commuting by 20%. Not only did they fail to do this, the comptroller’s investigation found, but there was an increase in private commuting from 42 billion km. in 2015, to 50 billion km. in 2019.
ACCORDING TO an annual report produced by the Environmental Protection Ministry in May 2021, the government was not expected to meet the targets set in the transportation sector.
Additionally, as of 2020, only 0.05% of cars in Israel were electric, and the steps being taken to increase this number are still in their infancy, Englman found.
Despite plans originally having been made in 2019 to ban the importation of vehicles with internal combustion engines to Israel from 2030 onward, the Energy Ministry decided to postpone this decision until 2035, stating the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason, despite no other countries doing the same or demonstrating that there was a need to do so.
Overall the report found that the Transportation Ministry, now operating under Labor leader Merav Michaeli, has failed to formulate a detailed plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector. Significant parts of their plans remain simply proposals, and unclear proposals at that.
Proposals or policies which have been suggested but not implemented include increased investment in public transportation and mass transit systems, and closing streets to traffic to encourage walking or cycling. However, the extent to which these plans will actually lower emissions has not been calculated or clarified.
Another sector that is failing to make significant progress in achieving its climate goals is the energy sector.
In 2008, the Israeli government under Ehud Olmert pledged that by 2020, the country’s energy usage would be reduced by 20% from what it was in 2006. However, the comptroller’s report found that they did not successfully meet their goal, and energy consumption has only been reduced by 12.4%.
The following year, Olmert’s government pledged to increase the use of renewable energy in Israel by 10% by the year 2020. However, at the time of the investigation, renewable energy usage had only increased by 6.1%. This is a cause for concern because it creates serious doubt that Israel will successfully meet its initial goal of a 17% increase by 2030. It also means that despite being the lowest target of all OECD countries, the newly proposed goal of a 30% increase by 2030 will be almost impossible.
The energy sector was granted NIS 800 million in order to reach its goals and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and yet NIS 500 million went unused due to a lack of approved plans.
Overall, the report summarized, the biggest issue standing between the government and a concrete climate action plan is a lack of allocation of manpower, budget, or attention to the climate issue inside government ministries in comparison to other issues. Additionally, the failure to declare a state of emergency over the climate crisis means that no long-term prevention methods or systemic preparations are being made to deal with the predicted effects.
However, Englman noted, since the distribution of the report among government bodies, plans have started to be formed in order to declare a state of emergency, reflecting a step in the right direction.
“Israel is not prepared for the climate crisis and there has not yet been a change in Israel’s policy perception to reflect the issue,” the report summarizes. “Eighty-four percent of public bodies have no plan at all to deal with the climate crisis.”
Shira Liberty, climate director for the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI), commented on the report, calling it “precedent-setting” and “one of the most in-depth and comprehensive documents written on the subject of climate in Israel.”
“Unfortunately,” she continued, “the comptroller points out that there is no national plan to prepare for climate change.
“SPNI backs up and strengthens the comptroller and his staff, in stating the unpleasant reality – the State of Israel is not committed to satisfactory goals and it is failing to implement them.”

Source: Jerusalem Post

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