Are Israeli Emission Controls Hopeless?

gilad-erdan minister environment israelWithout any change in policy, Israel may be heading to double its current emissions by 2030. According to the Jerusalem Post, a study commissioned by Israel’s Minister of the Environment Gilad Erdan (left) and executed by the McKinsey consulting firm found that Israel’s problem is high population growth coupled with rising standards of living.

The Post reports that Israeli emissions, at 10.2 tons per person per year, are more than Western Europe’s but half of the United States’.  The lion’s share of those emissions come from electricity production. The coal power plant in Ashkelon – which we wrote about here (Israel’s Minister of the Environment Says to Shut Down Coal Plant) – will undoubtedly add to that figure.

But there is some hope, McKinsey says. If Israel ramps up solar, wind and natural gas power, implements the electric car, retrofits homes to be energy efficient, and generates power from garbage, then the amount of emissions forecasted for 2030 could drop by as much as 70 percent. That figure would slide even lower if Israelis become vegetarian and cut back on air conditioning and heating.

A central obstacle is that the Israeli government has set its emissions reduction targets too low, aiming to reduce them by 10 percent by 2020.  But Erdan has set his sights on significantly reducing Israel’s ecological footprint, Haaretz reports. Beyond discouraging the Israeli Electricity Company from opening the new coal-fired plant, Erdan has also spoken in favor of a consumption tax to reduce electricity, and in favor of importing cleaner-burning natural gas.  He plans to have half of Israeli trash recycled by 2015, via mandated sorting of wet from dry garbage, and organic from non-organic waste.

Although Israeli civil society has long been involved in the climate change discussion, the Israeli government has often lagged far behind. This may change on December 7, when Israel will attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. Copenhagen should be the new Kyoto Protocol, and according to this (Hebrew) Epoch Times article, Israel is currently preparing a plan for combating global warming through smarter development.

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