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The desert threatens Israel

This is according to a report of the Knesset's research department that was prepared for the meeting of the Science and Technology Committee that dealt with global warming, and which took place in June 2007

The document reviews the phenomenon and its global and local results, presents the preparation of the various parties and their handling of the issue and suggests additional options for reducing the phenomenon and its damage. The document was compiled by Roy Goldschmidt, a member of the Knesset's research department. We bring it almost verbatim - and every word in stone. We have been warning about many of these things for years on the science website, for example in the articles of Dr. Assaf Rosenthal And of course in their knowledge global warming. At the same time, the editors of the Scientific American magazine in Hebrew, to which they dedicate, are published today on the Hedaman website to Israel and global warming.

The warming of the earth is clearly evident in the observations, which indicate an increase in the average temperature of the air and sea water, the increase in the processes of melting snow and glaciers and the rise of the sea level. The influence of human society on the warming of the earth due to the acceleration in the emission of greenhouse gases is now quite certain.

It is estimated that in the next 100 years the temperature will rise by 1.8-4 degrees (different scenarios predict different results) and that the sea level will rise by 18-59 cm. On top of that, more cases of drought and flood are expected.

Climate change is expected to affect all areas of life and large populations of humans and animals. The climatic changes are expected to worsen the health condition of millions of people, lead to a decrease in the availability of water for more than one-sixth of the world's population, damage the coastline, damage agriculture, damage the living areas of thousands, damage food sources and more. There are estimates that the plight of water sources will lead to regional instability and increase conflicts between countries in the future.

According to the Stern Report, published in Great Britain in 2006, which reviews the economic costs of climate change, the economic cost of not taking action to reduce global warming is expected to reach 5%-20% of global GDP each year in the future. On the other hand, the report states that the economic cost of actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can amount to only 1% of global GDP per year.
Although Israel is a marginal factor in greenhouse gas emissions, in terms of total emissions per capita it is similar to developed countries, for example the countries of the European Union.

A rise in the sea level, damage to water sources and their quality, and changes in the ecosystem due to the rise in temperatures are also expected in Israel. Therefore, there is a fear that in the future the water sector, agriculture, the ecological balance and tourism in the country will be severely damaged.

The government ministries, led by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, deal with the issue through various inter-ministerial committees and through the National Committee for the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which facilitates trade in greenhouse gases. However, it seems that so far few actions have been taken to address the problem and prepare for changes, due to a focus on assessment activities of the scope of the phenomenon and its results.

In addition to establishing inter-ministerial committees and funding research on the subject, there is a need to take practical policy steps, already now, to systematically deal with the issue of global warming and its effects in Israel.

1. Global warming

Global warming has been discussed a lot lately, following the 8G gathering - the gathering of the heads of industrialized countries - in Germany this month, and the debate that arose there on this topic.

The Kyoto Protocol, signed in 1997, was a practical step to implement the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, signed in 1992. The protocol defines developed countries and developing countries, and sets targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions only for developed countries. The United States, which until 2001 was a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, withdrew from it on the grounds that imposing restrictions only on developed countries would significantly harm their economic growth. As part of the G8 conference this month, the President of the United States, George Bush, opposed the initiative of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to state that the goal is to reduce emissions by 50% by the year 2050. The main debate revolved around meeting the goals of the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The debate yielded no results, and no emission reduction targets were defined at the convention beyond a general statement of intent.

In 2006, the British Treasury published the Stern Report, which reviews the economic costs of climate change. According to the report, the economic cost of not taking action to reduce global warming is expected to be at least 5% of global GDP each year in the future. In the calculation of dangers and other external influences, the economic damage may reach a rate of 20% of the global GDP each year and even more. On the other hand, the report states that the economic cost of the activity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can amount to only 1% of global GDP per year.

The report indicates the economic dangers of the "business as usual" policy and emphasizes the importance of taking actions to reduce the phenomenon, in global cooperation.

1.1. Greenhouse Effect

The greenhouse effect is a natural phenomenon of heat retention on the earth's surface and in the atmosphere by means of gases found in the atmosphere, known as greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases enable the absorption and preservation of heat emitted from the earth and thus enable life on it. If it weren't for the greenhouse effect, the average temperature on Earth would be 18 degrees below zero, and not 15 degrees - the existing average temperature.

However, in recent years there has been a significant increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and the result is a process of global warming. In the years 1970-2004, the emission rate of greenhouse gases increased by 70%.

1.2. Greenhouse gases and the reasons for the increase in their concentration in the atmosphere

Below are the main greenhouse gases and the causes of their increase in concentration.

  • Carbon dioxide. The main cause of the increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the use of fossil fuels. A secondary factor is land use change. Carbon dioxide has the greatest impact on global warming.
  • Methane. From the pre-industrial era until 2005 there was a 250% increase in the concentration of methane in the atmosphere. It is likely - with a degree of certainty of 66% - that this increase was caused by human activity, mainly agriculture and the use of fossil fuels.
  • Nitrous oxide - laughing gas. More than a third of the emission of laughing gas into the atmosphere is caused by human activity, mainly agriculture.

2. Climate change due to warming

While in the past there was a dispute about the very existence of the phenomenon of global warming and the effect of human activity on its extent, today the absolute majority of researchers accept the findings about global warming, and the certainty of the influence of human society on the phenomenon is increasing. Therefore, it becomes clear the need to take different actions to reduce global warming and to deal with its results and possible dangers.

The warming of the earth is evident in the observations, which indicate an increase in the average temperature of the air and sea water, the increase in the processes of melting snow and glaciers and the rise of the sea level.

In recent years, scientists have identified climate changes that have occurred over many years and the assumption is that these changes, which are expected to continue and even strengthen, are related to global warming. Among the changes we can mention: more hot days and nights in most climate zones, more frequent heat waves, many events of heavy rains and floods, more areas suffering from drought, more cases of sea level rise.

The temperature comparison between the years 1850-1899 and the years 2001-2005 shows an increase of 0.76°C.

The rate of sea level rise in the years 1961-2003 was about 1.8 mm per year. However, in the years 1993-2003, it was about 3.1 mm per year.

The estimates regarding the level of temperature and sea level, made according to different scenarios of emissions in the future in accordance with economic and social developments in the world, are that in the next 100 years the temperature will rise by 1.8 degrees (the optimistic scenario) to 4 degrees (the pessimistic scenario) and that the sea level will rise in 18-59 cm.

2.1. Future impacts of climate change

Climate change is expected to affect all areas of life and large populations of humans and animals. The climatic changes are expected to worsen the health condition of millions of people and change the water system, agriculture, places of residence, food sources and more.

2.1.1. water

  • By the middle of the century, a mixed trend of river water availability is expected: in high areas, water availability is expected to increase by 10%-40%. In dry areas and at medium altitudes, water availability is expected to decrease by 10%-30%.
  • In the next 100 years, a reduction of the water sources from glaciers and the melting of snow in the mountain ranges is expected. As a result, a decrease in water availability is expected for more than a sixth of the world's population.
  • It is estimated that there will be a proliferation of drought areas on the one hand and a proliferation of flood prone areas on the other hand.

2.1.2. food

  • At the global level, warming of up to three degrees is expected to increase the amount of crops. More warming is expected to decrease it. In high and medium areas, a certain increase in the amount of crops is expected. In low-lying areas, especially in tropical or dry areas, the amount of crops will decrease.
  • The increasing number of droughts and floods is expected to harm the local growth of crops, especially in low-lying areas.
  • A mixed effect is expected on fish crops and natural fisheries.

2.1.3. The coastline and low-lying areas

  • The rise in sea level is expected to cause erosion along the coastline and damage the existing coastal structure.
  • It is expected that the warming of the water will increase the phenomenon of "coral bleaching" - the death of corals due to changes in the growing environment. On top of that, the acidity level of the sea water will rise.
  • There is a fear that millions of people will be affected by floods due to sea level rise. Densely populated areas, which are also exposed to tropical storms today, are at high risk. Most of the damage to the population is expected to be in the area of ​​the mouths of the rivers in Asia and Africa.

2.1.4. public health

It is estimated that the health of millions of people will be affected by climate change, in various ways:

  • Growth of the population suffering from malnutrition or poor nutrition.
  • An increase in the number of deaths, illnesses and injuries due to heat waves, floods, storms, droughts and fires.
  • An increase in the number of people suffering from intestinal diseases and heart and lung diseases.
  • Changes in the distribution of some of the infectious diseases.

2.1.5. the ecosystem

  • 20%–30% of animals and plants may become extinct if the temperature rises by more than 2.5 degrees.
  • Due to such an increase in temperature, the living areas of various species are also expected to change, and the ecological balance may be damaged.

3. Warming and climate change in Israel

It is difficult to point out local changes and trends and link them to the broad phenomenon of global warming. However, researchers point to climatic changes in Israel that correspond to global trends.
In a comparative study in the last 40 years in Israel it was found that:

  • The minimum and maximum summer temperatures increased by one degree. However, there is no change in the annual temperature, because the winter temperatures have decreased.
  • The probability of very hot days in the summer (over 35 degrees in Jerusalem) has tripled.
  • An increase in the amount of rain was observed in the center and south and a decrease in the amount of rain in the Kinneret basin.
  • The frequency of extreme weather events increased - very rainy days and very hot days - and so did the frequency of extreme years (lots of rain or drought).
  • There was a decrease in evaporation rates in the north and center (about 14%); There was an increase in evaporation rates in the south (19%).

Examples of extreme weather events in Israel in the last decade:

  • 1998 - the hottest summer measured in Israel.
  • 1998-2000 – the longest drought in the south.
  • 2000 - the heaviest snow that fell in the Negev, the hottest month of July (41 degrees in Jerusalem).
  • 2002-2006 - the probability of very hot days in Jerusalem (35 degrees or more) tripled.
  • 2004-2006 - the month of March was very dry, up to 10% of the multi-year precipitation average for this month.

3.1. Climate change forecasts in Israel

The predictions of the researchers regarding the dimensions of the change in temperatures and precipitation in Israel are very different from each other. Prof. Pinchas Alpert from Tel Aviv University and other researchers present a forecast according to which an increase of 3.5-5 degrees is expected in Israel by the year 2100 (the temperature range results from different scenarios of greenhouse gas emissions). On the other hand, Jean Koch and Uri Dayan present a less severe forecast, as can be seen in the table below.

Climate change forecast in Israel compared to 1990

Year average temperature increase (C°) decrease in the amount of precipitation (%)
2020 0.3–0.4 1–2
2050 0.7–0.8 2–4
2100 1.6–1.8 4–8

3.2. Possible results of climate change in Israel

Israel is on the seam between the Mediterranean climate and the desert climate. This location affects its ecological diversity, and is the reason for the great differences in the weather and the level of precipitation between different regions of the country, despite its relatively small area. As can be seen from the above-mentioned global forecasts, a rise in sea levels, damage to water sources and their quality, and changes in the ecosystem due to the rise in temperatures are also expected in Israel. As mentioned, the estimates of the rate of warming and the results of the warming are disputed. Below are the main effects and dangers of it.

3.2.1. Water Sector

Alpert and others note that "the southeastern Mediterranean region is characterized by one of the lowest per capita water availability in the world. The demand for water in this area is increasing while the availability of water is gradually decreasing."

Sea level rise could lead to serious damage to the coastal aquifer, which is a very important source for Israel's water system. In addition to this, the findings so far as well as the future forecasts indicate a decrease in the amount of rainfall in the Kinneret Basin, which is the source of approximately 25% of Israel's water supply. Also the fact that the weather events are becoming more extreme - heavy rains for a short time instead of longer and milder periods of rain - limits the ability to store water and adds to the damage to the water system.

Damage to the water system may be acute for both drinking water and agriculture in Israel. In addition, there are estimates that the plight of water sources will lead to regional instability and increase future conflicts between countries.

3.2.2. Agriculture

Global warming is expected to have opposite effects on agriculture. On the one hand, studies indicate an improvement in the assimilation capacity (photosynthesis) of vegetation, due to an increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide, and therefore the changes will encourage the growth of vegetation. On the other hand, the decrease in the amount of water available for agriculture and the increase in the price of water are expected to damage crops and raise the price of agricultural produce. One of the forecasts indicates a decrease in agricultural profitability by up to 20% in the year 2100.

3.2.3. health

In 2003, about 20,000 people died in Europe as a result of heat waves. There is a fear that in Israel too there will be an increase in mortality and morbidity due to climate changes and the changes in the distribution of insects and pests.

3.2.4. ecology

Due to Israel's unique geographical location, on the edge of the desert, warming may cause desertification - the migration of animals, the change of their living spaces and the change of vegetation as part of the entire ecological system.

3.2.5. tourism

The damage to the coastline due to the rise in sea level - both in the Mediterranean Sea and in the Red Sea - and the changes in the terrestrial and marine ecology may have a negative effect on tourism and harm areas that are now unique centers of attraction for Israel.

4. The treatment of the phenomenon of global warming

There are many aspects to the treatment of the global warming phenomenon, related to many of the government ministries. The main body dealing with the issue is the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

4.1. Ministry of the Environment

In the Ministry of Environmental Protection, it is customary to divide the issue of global warming into three main areas: Vulnerability, Adaptation and Mitigation. The first two areas are the responsibility of the chief scientist of the office, Dr. Yeshayahu Braor. The third area is the responsibility of the head of the Clean Air Division in the Sholi Nezar office. Below is a breakdown of the areas of care of the office according to this division.

4.1.1. National Committee for the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)

The main concern of the Ministry of Environmental Protection in reducing damages is reflected in the work of the National Committee for the Clean Development Mechanism.

In the Kyoto Protocol from 1997, it was decided that the countries that are parties to the convention are obliged to act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Kyoto Protocol defined two groups of countries: developed countries and developing countries, and only the developed countries were defined a reduction obligation and a reduction target. Israel was defined as a developing country, therefore no reduction obligation was imposed on it. However, it was assigned the duty to establish a committee that would manage the clean development mechanism locally. In 2004, the Israeli government decided to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

Some of those dealing with the issue in Israel assume that at the end of the period fixed in the Kyoto Protocol (from 2012 onwards) Israel's position will change, and it will be considered a developing country and therefore will be obliged to reduce emissions by a certain amount.

To encourage the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions also in developing countries and to make it easier for developed countries to meet their reduction goals, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) was proposed in the Kyoto Protocol. This mechanism enables international trade in greenhouse gases in the Bourse trading. The National Committee, which includes 12 representatives from various government ministries and environmental organizations, is in charge of managing the trade in "emission reduction rights" in Israel, and is the body that approves compliance with the conditions for trading in greenhouse gas emission reductions with other bodies in developed countries. For example, Italy (which is defined as a developed country) has been assigned the obligation to reduce 8% of greenhouse gas emissions, but it can buy part of the emission reduction through trade with entities from developing countries, which carry out optimization and emission reduction processes in their field. Today, the price of an "emission reduction right" of 1 ton of carbon dioxide is about 16-17 euros.

The National Commission for the Clean Development Mechanism has so far approved 19 projects, five of which have moved to the third stage, registration by the United Nations, where emission rights are made tradable. The total emission reduction of these projects is 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide per year.

If you take into account that the total greenhouse gas emissions in Israel in 2004 were more than 73 million tons of carbon dioxide, then despite the significant economic value of these projects, the emission reduction due to them will be at a rate of less than 0.5% of the total greenhouse gas emissions in Israel.

4.1.2. Greenhouse gas emissions in Israel

As you can see in the diagram, most of the greenhouse gases (81% of them) are emitted by burning fuels to create energy, electricity and transportation.

About 75% of the total emissions due to electricity production originate from the coal-fired power plants ("Orot Rabin" in Hadera and "Rotenberg" in Ashkelon).

Although Israel is a marginal factor in greenhouse gas emissions (about 73 million tons compared to one billion tons in Germany, for example, according to 2004 data), in terms of total emissions per capita Israel is similar to developed countries, for example the countries of the European Union.

4.1.3. Office of the Chief Scientist

As mentioned, the chief scientist at the Ministry of Environmental Protection deals with vulnerability as a result of global warming and adapting to the changes that follow it.

In March 2007, the Director General of the Ministry of Environmental Protection held a meeting of an inter-ministerial steering team on the topic of preparing for climate change. At the conclusion of the meeting, it was decided to establish multidisciplinary working groups, which will present studies, forecasts and strategic recommendations for implementation. On the recommendation of the ministry's scientist, Dr. Braur, it was decided to establish committees in the following areas: energy, the water sector, beaches, agriculture, health, environment and biodiversity. In addition, it was decided to establish a working group on data and models.

In practice, only two committees have been established so far: a committee for the issue of the water sector, whose members are representatives from the Geological Institute, from "Mekorot", from the Water Authority, from the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture, and a working group for gathering information and data headed by Prof. Alpert, with the participation of representatives from the Meteorological Service, From the Water Commission, the Geological Institute and the National Society for the Study of Seas and Lakes (Khiel).
According to Dr. Braur, a request was submitted to the Ministry of Health to establish a committee on the effects of climate change on public health. He stated that due to a lack of manpower, the rest of the committees will be established next year. He also noted that according to the schedule for the committees' activities, they must submit a background document shortly after their establishment, an interim results document within one year and a final document within three years.

It should be noted that more than a decade ago an inter-ministerial committee was established to formulate a policy on the subject, according to the government's decision of May 5, 1996. The members of the committee included representatives of the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Infrastructure, the Ministry of Transportation, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and the Ministry of Agriculture , the Ministry of Science, the National Fund for Israel, the Electric Company, the Association of Manufacturers and the association "Man, Nature and Law".

It seems that, despite the establishment of several inter-ministerial committees, there is a lack of an overall systemic plan for continuous and continuous treatment of the issue.

The Ministry of the Environment, in collaboration with the Araba Institute and the Revson Foundation, conducted a study to examine the economic significance of taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the State of Israel in 2010-2015, with the aim of this study serving as a platform for discussing the national goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The research findings document, titled "National Action Plan for Climate Change", was the basis of a report document submitted to the UN in 2000, as part of the commitment of the countries that signed the Kyoto Protocol, but it seems that the implementation of the recommendations in this policy document is only partial.

An economic study is currently being carried out for the purpose of preparing for the post-Kyoto agreements.

4.2. Ministry of National Infrastructures

The Ministry of National Infrastructures is in charge of the energy sector, which is the main sector in which greenhouse gas emissions occur in Israel.

According to Mr. Zeev Gross, the director of the department for managing infrastructure resources in the ministry, the ministry is working to establish a transmission system for natural gas, to convert fuel oil-based stations to stations that use natural gas, and to establish cycle-type power plants combined with natural gas.

The ministry is going to publish a tender for the construction of a solar station, with the scope of 250 megawatts. The station should be built in about three years. The Authority for Public Services - Electricity has set rates for non-distributed solar energy ($0.17-0.20 per kilowatt hour, depending on the size of the facility). In addition to this, the ministry is preparing a master plan for energy efficiency and the utilization of alternative energy, and has set a target for the production of electricity from renewable energy: 10% by the year 2020.

Despite the above, the government's decision from November 2002, which stated that from 2007 2% of the electricity supplied to consumers will be produced in renewable energy facilities, will not be implemented this year. As of the beginning of 2007, only about 0.09% of all electricity in Israel is produced with renewable energy.

The Ministry of National Infrastructures has established a standard for the energy rating of buildings and is working to establish standards and enforcement of minimum efficiency in various electrical appliances.

4.3. Ministry of Science

The Ministry of Science finances studies examining the issue of global warming both independently and in cooperation with international parties.

Directly funded by the Ministry, studies are conducted in various frameworks on the subjects of aquatic nitrogen fixation, climate change, environment and grazing in the Negev and changes in the properties of clouds and precipitation. The total budgets given to these frameworks: approximately NIS 640,000.

As part of cooperation with Germany in the "Earth as a System" project, research is being conducted on climate change and its effects on coastal processes, nitrogen fixation processes and photosynthesis. Total budgets in this activity: about 126,000 euros. The Israeli participation is about 10% of this budget.
In the GLOWA project, there is a German-Israeli-Jordanian collaboration, and it examines the changes in the climate and the global water cycle. The project is partnered by many Israeli research groups, and its total budget is 1,850,700 Euros.

4.4. Ministry of Industry, Trade and Employment

The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Employment does not deal directly with the issue of global warming and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from factories. However, the ministry partners with the Ministry of Environmental Protection in funding preliminary research, which examines what is being done in the world in the field of alternative energy development (each ministry's share in funding: 100,000 NIS). On top of that, the representative of the ministry participated in the inter-ministerial steering team on preparing for climate change.

According to Mr. Ohad Orenstein, Director of the Chemistry and Environment Administration at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Employment, the Investment Promotion Law and the R&D Law do not directly encourage environmental protection. For example, a plant that produces alternative energy for the Israeli market will not be able to receive aid, despite its importance in terms of environmental quality, as long as it is not involved in exports.

4.5. Department of Transportation

The Ministry of Transportation works in the field of reducing air pollution mainly through the regulation of vehicles and fuels that conforms to the trends in Europe and the United States in the field of reducing the emission of polluting substances. According to a government decision from August 2000, vehicles imported to Israel must meet European air pollution standards (Euro 4). Vehicles manufactured in NAFTA countries (the United States, Mexico, and Canada) must meet the federal standard of the United States.

The fuel quality is also adjusted to European standards (Euro 4). Since October 2006, 16 gas stations in Israel have sold diesel with a sulfur content of 10 ppm (parts per million, PPM) instead of 50 ppm in regular diesel. 98 octane gasoline also has a standard of 10 cc.

The Ministry of Transportation is currently in the final stages of preparing a standard for biodiesel. At the Standards Institute there is a committee to define a standard for ethanol (alcoholic fuel).

The Ministry currently permits the import of an electric vehicle (in accordance with European or American standards) that meets the requirements of the traffic regulations regarding motor vehicles. The ministry recently allowed the commercial import of electric motorcycles.

In addition to this, the Ministry of Transportation currently requires a pollutant emission test and CO emission tests as a condition for granting a vehicle license.

The Ministry of Transportation was even a partner in the committee for green taxation headed by the VP of Planning and Economics at the Tax Authority (the activities of the committee are detailed below).

The Meteorological Service is a headquarters unit of the Ministry of Transportation. The service is a partner of the Ministry of the Environment and the inter-ministerial steering team on preparing for climate change and carries out monitoring, studies and forecasts in the field of climate change in Israel.

4.6. Ministry of Health

Following the heat wave that hit France in the summer of 2004, an inter-ministerial committee headed by the Geriatrics Division of the Ministry of Health was established on the subject of the effects of heat and cold on the elderly. The committee consisted of representatives of various departments in the Ministry of Health (geriatrics, social service, public health and information field), representatives of the health insurance funds, representatives of the service for the elderly in the Ministry of Welfare and representatives of the meteorological service.

The chairman of the committee, Dr. Iris Rasoli, submitted an interim report to the director general of the ministry, Prof. Avi Israeli, in which she recommended conducting an awareness campaign in the public, especially among the elderly; carry out information and focused training activities among doctors; act to define infrastructure standards in the hospitals so that the appropriate temperature is maintained in them; tighten the relationship with the welfare services and formulate an action plan in the community; Send alerts to the public and keep up to date according to international guidelines in the field.

In addition, the report notes the importance of being able to discover mortality patterns in real time and not just in retrospect. The report states that "the Ministry of Health does not have real-time data on mortality, even though the Ministry and the hospitals are the ones that issue the death certificates, this is because the matter is not computerized. Data can only be released from the Ministry of the Interior after over a year."

Dr. Rasoli notes that some of the issues raised have been addressed and some are in the planning stage. In addition to this, a follow-up committee was established on the subject of the heat wave - operative measures, led by the Emergency Department of the Ministry of Health and with the participation of the representatives of the bodies that sat on the first committee, representatives of the National Insurance, the Local Government Center, the Information Department of the Ministry of Health and the Center for Disease Control of the Ministry of Health.

4.7. Ministry of Finance

In early 2006, the Tax Authority of the Ministry of Finance established an inter-ministerial committee on green taxation. The chairman of the committee is Mr. Boaz Sofer, Deputy Director of Planning and Economics at the Tax Authority, and representatives of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Ministry of Transportation, the Ministry of National Infrastructures, the Ministry of Finance and the State Revenue Commissioner participate in it. The committee submitted its draft report of findings in May 2007.

The committee examined the possibility of reducing air pollution by encouraging a transition to clean vehicles and integrating environmental technologies, fuel taxation and incentives for the use of green fuels. The committee points out that an extensive mechanism of positive and negative incentives should be offered to change the nature of vehicle use today and reduce air pollution, and that in order to reduce vehicle use it is necessary to strengthen other alternatives: public transportation, pedestrian and bicycle paths, etc. Although the committee referred to the entire phenomenon of air pollution and not only to the phenomenon of global warming, the implementation of its recommendations as part of a broader outline may have a significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions in Israel, since the burning of transportation fuels is a major factor in this area.

A document of the Center for Research and Information on Environmental Taxation indicates that such a measure is common today in many European countries and in some of them (Germany, Great Britain and Sweden) even led to a considerable change in the volume of vehicle pollutant emissions.

5. Possibilities of action in the future

In general, issues of environmental quality are often seen as a preoccupation with luxury, characteristic of individuals or countries that are not preoccupied with the problems of the hour. The phenomenon of global warming in particular was seen for years as an apocalyptic vision, but today it is becoming more and more clear that it is a real phenomenon, to which attention and resources must be devoted. Failure to act will have severe ecological, social and economic consequences.
Although in Israel many bodies work on the issue of global warming, it seems that the various activities are not completely coordinated and sometimes stop at the policy formulation stage. There is room to sharpen the cooperation between the government ministries and outline a comprehensive plan to deal with the issue.

Dealing with the issue of global warming should not be limited to a specific sector, but will encompass all sectors - the public sector, the private sector and the third sector - and will be carried out both at the household level, at the level of public buildings and at the factory level.

On top of that, there is room to encourage local authorities to actively participate in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and even offer incentives for this. Many cities in the world have accepted the obligation to reduce the emission in the city areas. In Israel, an initiative of the 15th Forum, which unites 15 local authorities in Israel, has begun to reduce the emission of polluting gases in cities and to actively participate in the initiatives of major cities around the world in this area. In addition to this, in the Eilat region and in the Eilot region, the authorities have begun to work for what they call energy independence in the south, namely the utilization of natural resources and empty lands to create alternative energy sources.

5.1. policy tool

Various mechanisms can be used to promote environmental policy: legislation and regulation, taxation and granting of grants and subsidies, dissemination of information and definition of standards. All the tools together constitute a system of balances, which places a demand for an informed activity that does not only have obligations, in legislation or taxation, but also the provision of information and benefits - incentives for those who meet the requirements, education of the consumers and information of the decision makers. Only partial use of these tools (for example, taxing vehicles or roads without creating adequate transportation alternatives) is expected to arouse resistance and harm the chances of success of the change.

However, it is important to note that since the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) states that only a voluntary project will be entitled to participate in the trade in greenhouse gas emissions, and not an activity obligated by legislation, there is a fear that defining standards for reducing emissions in the legislation will harm in the short term the possibility of profiting financially from reducing carbon emissions.

5.2. Possible tools for reducing greenhouse gas emissions

  • Transportation and fuel: Encouraging the use of public transportation by making it an affordable, available and convenient option, encouraging cycling or walking, among other things through the establishment of suitable paths, beyond the use of green fuels.
  • The energy sector: transition to non-coal electricity generation, opening the electricity market to competition and encouraging alternative energy-based electricity generation solutions, streamlining the use of electricity in homes and public buildings, encouraging factories that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Green construction and energy optimization: changes in the architectural design (size of windows, directions, division of the interior space) and the technological tools (insulated windows, building materials, electrical appliances and solar collectors), which will make it possible to save a lot of energy, which is currently wasted on lighting, heating or cooling.
  • Green areas: planting trees, encouraging gardening on roofs, increasing green areas - all of these allow the absorption of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere and therefore reduce the effect of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Waste: reducing the volumes of waste, recycling, limited use of non-recyclable materials, energy production from the waste decomposition processes - all of these should reduce the emission of the greenhouse gas methane.
  • Education: The basis for all the actions mentioned above is education. Publicizing and informing the public about the importance of the issue, describing the benefits to the general and individual and emphasizing the variety of options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
    5.3. Strengthening preparedness for vulnerability due to climate change and promoting adaptation to these changes Strengthening Israeli preparedness for the possibilities of vulnerability due to climate change and promoting adaptation to possible climate change are additional steps that must be taken.
  • Examining the possible changes in the fields of agriculture (for example, crops that consume less water).
  • Examining the water policy, planning possible water reserves, building septic tanks that will allow flood water to be stored (which nowadays often flows into the sea), water desalination plants and more.
  • Preparing for changes in public health, examining the potential risks and planning solutions for them.
  • Preparing for ecological changes, such as desertification, changing the ecological balance, rising sea levels and damage to the coastline.

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