Israel to Invest NIS 2.2b to Reduce Greenhouse Gas

Cabinet to approve 20% cut in emissions by 2020.

Israel should invest NIS 2.2 billion over the next decade in steps to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, the inter-ministerial committee on reducing emissions will recommend to the cabinet on Sunday. The state had committed itself to reducing such emissions by 20% by 2020 at the UN Climate Change Conference in December 2009 in Copenhagen.

Dror Artzi

The committee, headed by director general of the Finance Ministry Haim Shani, was given the responsibility for formulating Israel's proposals as to how to achieve the reductions, and will present its recommendations for cabinet approval.

However, the present recommendations will represent only 72% of Israel's commitment to cut emissions by 20%.

Of the sum, some NIS 534 million will be spent in 2011-2012. NIS 269 million will be aimed at reducing private sector electricity consumption by providing citizens with incentives to dispose of old, inefficient refrigerators and air conditioners. Another NIS 144 million will be invested in reducing electricity consumption in the private sector and in local authorities. Another NIS 39 million will be earmarked for a pilot program on environmentally-friendly construction, as well as mapping out potential uses of such construction. Some NIS 46 million will be spent on education and encouraging electricity savings, and another NIS 40 million for implementing new Israeli technologies for reducing emissions.

Reaching the target

The inter-ministerial committee on formulating a national plan for greenhouse gas emissions reduction was established in March. The proposed plan will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 13 million tons of carbon dioxide a year by 2020, which is 60% of the target. Another 12% will come from further steps including additional recycling programs, with an additional 2.6 million-ton reduction.

The committee has tasked various ministries with specific projects in its recommendations, most to be completed by July 1, 2011. National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau (Yisrael Beiteinu ) will be required to establish regulations for saving energy in such areas as street lighting and home appliances.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud ) will be responsible for proposing tax incentives for reducing emissions and establishing accelerated depreciation rates for energy-efficient equipment and machinery.

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud ) will recommend new standards for energy-efficient tires and air-pressure maintenance systems for new vehicles, as well as designing an education program for environmentally-friendly driving.

The committee expects other benefits from the program, such as the development of cleantech industry in Israel and an improvement in Israel's international standing.

Steinitz said the program combines environmental issues with economic opportunities, and will help bring sustainable economic growth. Shani said the investment would pay for itself.

Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud ) said: "The plan is complete, and it is my intention to demand that at the same time it is approved, [the cabinet] also set a short time frame for approving an additional budget to integrate renewable energy and cancel the additional coal-fired power station in Ashkelon."