It is only apt that Israel's Cabinet approved an important environmental decision on the day its parliament celebrated World Environment Day earlier this year– a decision to prepare a climate change plan for Israel.
Global warming and the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions call for joint action by countries worldwide. In the Mediterranean Sea basin, even more than in other parts of the world, the impacts of climate change are reflected in warming and drying trends, on the one hand, and in an increase in extreme weather events (floods and heat waves), on the other hand. Since these trends are associated with adverse impacts on the water sector, agricultural production, drainage systems, the energy sector, the coastal environment and more, adaptation and preparedness are prerequisites.
Although Israel was classified as a developing economy under the Climate Change Convention, a comparison of carbon dioxide emissions per capita between Israel and other European countries shows that Israel is not far behind some of the countries with developed economies which are listed in Annex I of the Convention.
In order to quantify Israel's mitigation potential, the Ministry of Environmental Protection commissioned a study on options for greenhouse gas emissions reductions in Israel. The study shows that three sectors currently contribute some 95% of greenhouse gas emissions in Israel – the energy sector (including electricity production and transport), responsible for 83% of the emissions, the disposal of solid waste, responsible for 7% of the emissions, and industrial processes, especially cement and lime, which contribute 4% of the emissions. What's especially worrying is that the study anticipates a further rise in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, with the forecast pointing to a 63% increase in greenhouse gas emissions in the year 2025, under a business-as usual scenario, in relation to 2000.
More than 90% of the emissions will come from the energy and transport sectors, with the rest coming from industrial processes (4%) and waste (5%). In order to change this trend, Israel must reduce greenhouse gas emissions in all relevant sectors.
At the same time, the study quantifies Israel's potential for limiting greenhouse gas emissions by identifying potential abatement mitigation measures, which include, inter alia, energy related building codes, greater efficiency of electricity appliances, five percent reduction in electricity consumption, promotion of solar and wind energy, efficient lighting and reduction in vehicle mileage. Assuming that all measures are implemented, the study estimates a potential reduction of some 32 million tons of CO2 equivalent in 2025 (about 26% of emissions) in comparison to 2000.
As Israel prepares for the Climate Change Conference to be held in Copenhagen in December 2009, it remains committed to taking on the challenge of implementing mitigation and adaptation measures which will benefit both the country, on a national level, and the global environment, on an international level. The preparation of a climate change plan for Israel is expected to reduce local air pollution while boosting the Israeli economy, by increasing the number of people employed in the cleantech sector in Israel and by developing and transferring new technologies which will contribute to the global effort against climate change.