pollution - Baz Ratner - August 31 2010
Haifa Bay Photo by Baz Ratner
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The Ministry of Environmental Protection will distribute to government offices on Sunday Israel’s first national air pollution reduction program. The ministry says the program will substantially reduce the emission of the most harmful pollutants. The program, which includes changes to the pricing of electricity and the taxes on vehicles and fuel, will be brought to a vote by the government during the upcoming weeks. According to the ministry’s projections, illness caused by air pollution will cost NIS 8 billion, within a decade, if the necessary measures are not taken, will be.

The new program calls for a substantial expansion of the scrappage program, encouraging owners of old vehicles to take old polluting cars of the road in exchange for cash. In addition, another program, encouraging public transportation companies to purchase less polluting buses. The ministry will also begin running a pilot-project, which will operate three city buses fueled by Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), a program that had up to now been objected to by the Ministry of Public Security.

The Ministry of Transport and Road Safety and the Ministry of Environmental Protection will offer reduced rates on toll-roads for multi-passenger vehicles and public transportation. In addition, incentives valued at NIS 60 million will be given to employers that will operate programs encouraging employees to commute by carpool or public transportation.

The Ministry of Finance will formulate an incentive program, providing a 33% tax break to owners, purchasing hybrid vehicles. The program also proposes a graded tax rate on fuels based on how polluting they are.

A substantial part of the program deals with changes in the pricing of electricity, and the improvement of Israel’s electricity infrastructure, aimed at lowering consumption; reduced rates for household consumption during the night, when demand is low. A deferential rate will be enacted, so that those consuming a lot of electricity will pay a high price per watt. More sophisticated consumption monitoring systems will be implemented.

The program drafted by the Ministry of Environmental Protection is based on the estimate that the measures taken to date are not sufficient to meet the ministry’s air quality objectives. The ministry estimates that the implementation of the program will lead to a double-digit reduction in the percentage of ozone, Microparticles, and nitrogen oxides in Israel’s air. The plan is estimated to cost NIS 690 million, NIS 290 million in the next two years. But according to the ministry this is small change compared with the NIS 7.8 billion in costs to the Israeli economy incurred due illness stemming from air pollution by 2015, and approximately NIS 8.5 billion by 2020.

Read this article in Hebrew.