Just Under the Wire, Israel Submits Greenhouse Gas Emission Targets to the UN

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The Hadera electricity power plant south of Haifa, last year.
The Hadera electricity power plant south of Haifa, last year.Credit: Rami Shllush

Over the weekend, Israel provided the United Nations with its national targets for reducing greenhouse gases, a submission required by the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Countries that are signatories to the agreement were to submit their targets by the end of 2020, but amid the instability of four election campaigns in two years, the Israeli cabinet hadn't passed a resolution on the subject until Sunday of last week.

The secretariat staff administering the accord had informed the Israeli government that if Israel did not submit its gas emission targets by the end of July, meaning last Saturday, it would not be listed on an international report to the United Nations on the subject. The omission of Israel would have been considered a diplomatic embarrassment for the country, senior Israeli officials said.

The Israeli cabinet resolution that was approved last week commits to reducing Israel's greenhouse gases by 27 percent by 2030 and by 85 percent by 2050. Those targets are modest compared to other Western countries. The United States, for example, has committed to cut emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and to net-zero by 2050. Along with the gas emissions targets, the countries that are signatories to the accord are to submit plans for their national strategy in achieving a low-emission economy.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is expected to attend the UN Climate Change Conference scheduled in the Scottish city of Glasgow in November.

Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg, who submitted Israel's targets on the country's behalf amid signs of a worsening climate crisis, said that Israel was also strengthening its targets for greenhouse gas emissions and expanding its climate strategy. "Israel is joining the other countries working to shift to a clean and efficient economy, in order to be prepared for the consequences of climate crisis," she said. "We will shortly submit other resolutions to support the targets that Israel has set and to make them a reality."

Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg, last month.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

The goal of the international effort which Israel is a part of is to curb global greenhouse gas emission and prevent global warming beyond the critical range of 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius, the Environmental Protection Minister said, adding that beyond that point, the world's climate would be expected to spiral out of control and reach destructive levels.

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