Israeli Ministries Spar Over Greenhouse Gas Emission Targets

Cabinet vote delayed after infrastructure ministry says environment ministry’s targets are impractical.

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Pollution in Haifa Bay.
Pollution in Haifa Bay.Credit: Baz Ratner

A dispute between the National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Ministry and the Environmental Protection Ministry over targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is delaying a cabinet decision on the issue.

Israel is obligated to announce its emission reduction targets by the end of this month, as a signatory to the Framework Convention on Climate Change and in advance of meetings on the treaty at the end of November in Paris. Last week, the Environmental Protection Ministry distributed a cabinet proposal to reduce annual per capita greenhouse emissions in Israel be reduced to 7.2 metric tons by 2030.

The major component in the plan is increasing the proportion of energy generated from renewable sources from the 10 percent target that the government previously set to 22 percent, mostly from solar power.

The infrastructure ministry has opposed both targets, arguing that they are not achievable. The Environmental Protection Ministry has been under pressure, including from the Prime Minister’s Office, to scale back its targets. It is still not clear what the ministry’s final stance will be on Sunday, when the cabinet is scheduled to address it. Ministry officials view the targets not only as an international commitment but also as a way to reduce energy use and air pollution.

The Society for the Protection of Nature, the Israel Union for Environmental Defense and the Israel Green Building Council have asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to intervene in the ministerial dispute. The organizations say Israel cannot evade its international commitments on greenhouse gas emissions. They say the state must set ambitious targets, adding that meeting them will also benefit public health.

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