Gov't Committee to Discuss Reduction in Greenhouse Gases

In the wake of the United Nations Climate Conference in Copenhagen, Israel is expected late next month to submit its plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The government will deliberate today over Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan's program to create a ministerial committee for promoting renewable energy, to be headed by the prime minister. The committee would be charged with bridging differences between various government ministries - particularly ongoing disagreements between the environmental protection and national infrastructure ministries - over how best to address climate change. One of the central bones of contention is the planned inauguration of a new coal-powered plant in Israel, which the environment ministry seeks to cancel and the infrastructure ministry supports.

In Denmark, Israel committed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by one-fifth by the end of the coming decade.

Late last week Environmental Protection Ministry director-general Yossi Inbar appeared at a conference on reducing greenhouse gases at the local government level, where he dismissed claims aired by environmental groups that Israel should have adopted emission cuts similar to those made by European countries. "Whoever makes such claims is effectively saying that we must close the country down," Inbar said, explaining that Israel's population growth and lack of natural resources prevent it from making such wide-ranging commitments.

Inbar said Israel could meet its emission targets if it implements government programs for reducing electricity consumption and increasing the use of renewable energy to 10 percent of all energy consumption. He added that his ministry is considering implementing a program allowing the public to receive compensation for old, inefficient air conditioners, which would be disassembled in an environmentally friendly manner and replaced with more energy-efficient models.

Another effective method of reducing greenhouse gas emissions is forestation. Kfar Sava mayor Yehuda Ben-Hamo said recently that his municipality is the first to pursue a project of "obsessive forestation," which will see 25,000 trees planted in the city - almost one tree for every household.