The world's second-highest leader in technology development says reducing its carbon emissions will save the country billions of dollars in the coming years, as well as boost green innovation.
Israel's cabinet approved its 2030 targets last week, opening the door for more funding for energy-efficiency projects and technology development. Those targets are set to realize a 25 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030, or 7.7 tons of CO2 equivalent per-capita based on its 2005 levels. According to data released by the Israeli government, if the country stays on track and meets those targets, it will save about $8 billion over the next 14 years.
Under the proposed plan, Israel will commit $132 million in loan guarantees for energy-efficiency projects. Another $80 million in grants will help boost efficiency in local municipalities, business and technology through added support to small- and mid-sized businesses and towns. According to a September 2015 proposal submitted ahead of the COP21 climate talks in Paris, the plan also calls for a substantial increase in Israel's renewable energy sector, from 2 percent of the country's total energy generation to 17 percent.
A key goal for cutting pollution, the cabinet said, is cutting the country's dependence on coal and increasing its use of natural gas. However, doing so may also require revising its plan for harvesting natural gas from the Leviathan offshore gas reserve. Last month, the High Court struck down the project, saying the government's plan to fix gas prices for the next decade was unconstitutional.
Other initiatives include improving the country's transportation sector and green building opportunities, in part by revising government requirements and processes. A committee will be appointed to investigate ways to cut government roadblocks and facilitate funding for clean energy.
The budget that will allow for loan and grant funding still needs to be finalized, but the government says it is working on those final steps.
The Israeli government has come under pressure from local environmental groups and government advocates in recent years for its sluggish response to carbon reduction. The September 2015 announcement of its 2030 goals was met with lukewarm response, with the chair of the Knesset’s Social-Environmental Lobby, Minister Tamar Zandberg (Meretz Party), branding the projected goals as "no more than lip service" to the 30 percent reduction recommended by the country's Environmental Protection Ministry.
“It will not allow for the development of renewable energy – which in sunny Israel, was supposed to have gone without saying already for years – or for a real plan for energy efficiency. It is time we understand what is already clear to the whole world – the climate crisis is here,” Zandberg said.
Jan Lee is a former news editor and award-winning editorial writer whose non-fiction and fiction have been published in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and Australia. Her articles and posts can be found on TriplePundit, JustMeans, and her blog, The Multicultural Jew, as well as other publications. She currently splits her residence between the city of Vancouver, British Columbia and the rural farmlands of Idaho.