In July 2021, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and several ministers announced the government was setting a national goal to reduce carbon emissions by at least 85% from Israel’s 2015 levels with an interim objective of a 27% reduction in emissions by 2030. This is the first time that the Israeli government set national goals to reduce carbon emissions and declared a national strategy to move to a clean, efficient and competitive economy, thus aligning Israel with the other developed countries in the global fight against the climate crisis.
This represents Israel’s implementation of its international commitment under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement to prevent crossing the global warming threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius. Israel is committed to reaching the goal of zero carbon emissions by the year 2050.
To achieve these goals, a number of specific targets were set, including:
- Reduction of carbon emissions from solid waste by at least 47% compared to emissions measured in 2015, which stood at 5.5 million tons, by 2030. A 71% reduction in the amount of municipal waste dumped by 2030 compared to the amount of municipal waste dumped in 2018, which stood at about 4.5 million tons.
- Limiting the amount of carbon emissions from a new vehicle weighing up to 3.5 tons and registered from 2030, to an amount equal to 5% of the average carbon emissions for a new vehicle, weighing up to 3.5 tons, registered in 2020. Starting in 2026, all new city buses which will be purchased will be environmentally friendly vehicles.
- By the year 2030: reduction of carbon emissions that come from electricity by 30% compared to emissions measured in 2015, which stood at 37.6 million tons. Setting a target that by 2030 the energy intensity invested in the production of a gross domestic product (GDP) in the amount of 1 million NIS will be 122 megawatts per hour.
- By the year 2030: reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from the manufacturing sector by at least 30% relative to emissions in 2015, which stood at 12 million tons.
The decision also promotes key targets for 2050: a 96% reduction in carbon emissions from the transportation sector, an 85% reduction from the electricity sector and a 92% reduction in the municipal waste sector.
It was also determined that the Minister of Energy will work to set targets for renewable energy for 2050 within 12 months of approving this decision, as well as establishing a mechanism aimed at ensuring that government policy is in line with Israel's national climate goals and efficient and low-carbon development.
The Ministries of Environmental Protection, Energy, Finance, Transportation, Economy and Industry and the Interior are leading the allocation of funds dedicated to implementing the targets for 2030, which will include investments in purchasing electric buses, promoting charging stations, investing in reducing carbon emissions in industry, businesses, local authorities and more. This is in cooperation with representatives of local government and industry.
Prime Minister Bennett told his cabinet, “The climate crisis is one of the major issues on the world agenda, and rightly so. It concerns the lives of all of us, and also the lives of our children and grandchildren. It is in our being. We are obligated to deal with it in Israel, at all levels and in all ministries.”
On October 24, 2021, ahead of the UN Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland (November 2021), the cabinet approved a new plan to encourage climate innovation, to develop technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for climate change. In addition, Prime Minister Bennett declared that tackling climate change was a national security interest of Israel and will be be addressed in Israel’s strategic planning process.
Top Goals of Israel’s new policy:
- Optimal preparation for situations of emergency and rapid adaptation.
- Maximizing Israel’s contribution to the global community, especially in the field of climate innovation.
- Advancing regional cooperation on climate change.
- Cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
The government also announced a national implementation plan of “100 Action Items” and adopted four resolutions:
- On an energy-streamlining program for reducing greenhouse gas emissions (almost $230 million to support industry, commerce and local government);
- On clean, low-carbon transportation, and a shift to using public transportation and the electrification of public transportation.
- To accelerate building infrastructures, with a focus on removing obstacles to renewable energy.
- To encourage technological innovation, which will help fight climate change through climate tech.
To help implement the plan, one task force will be created to focus on accelerating climate technologies. The team will work to lift regulatory impediments to the research, development, application and assimilation of technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and preparations for climate change in public infrastructures and public agencies. The team will have one year to issue the results of its work to the public and its recommendations for steps and actions by public bodies to advance the assimilation of technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and preparations for climate change.
Another task force will discuss projects to assist in preparing for natural disasters and extreme events such as fires and floods, and will work to formulate solutions and policy steps to remove impediments to their implementation.
The Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office will act to create a support system to encourage investment in research and development of technologies for the fight against climate change, including cooperation by means of binational research and development funds and the pooling of budgetary resources, in coordination with the various ministries.
He will also brief the assessment forum chaired by the Energy Minister on progress in removing impediments in the energy field, and the Environmental Protection Minister on progress in removing impediments in the field of waste and recycling. Once every three months, the task force will update the list of projects and the topics it will discuss, according to the agenda that will be determined.
The infrastructures being advanced in the field of climate and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions will also be added to the multi-year infrastructures development plan published annually by the Prime Minister’s Office. This will strengthen coordination and synchronization regarding infrastructure projects and direct of government attention to areas in which there is insufficient implementation or planning for projects.
In addition, the Energy Minister established a government forum on renewable energy with the participation of the director generals of the relevant ministries.
The ministers of Energy; Environmental Protection; and Innovation, Science and Technology, in cooperation with Economy and Industry Minister, and the Finance Ministry Budget Director and Accountant General, will submit to the cabinet recommendations on climate technology innovation in the following areas: Encouraging academic and industrial research while defining areas of national importance; expanding financing solutions and risk management systems, including by means of cooperating with binational funds; and pooling activity by relevant ministries in order to promote the assimilation of climate technologies.
In the framework of the plan, the director generals of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Energy Ministry, the Environmental Protection Ministry, the Economy and Industry Ministry, and the Agriculture Ministry will establish the Prime Minister’s Committee on Climate Technology and Innovation with the participation of senior representatives from government, the private sector, academia and third sector organizations.
Minister of Environmental Protection Tamar Zandberg said, “Israel is home to advanced start-ups and leading research centers, and Israeli climate innovation is already a world leader in some areas. This is an opportunity for us, not only to ignite the Israeli innovation and technology economy, but also to play a key role in climate crisis solutions in a way that transcends our relative share, both at the regional level and at the global level.” She added, “The government’s decision to accelerate infrastructure translates into policy what scientists have been telling us for a long time: Rapid emissions reduction is critical to preventing the devastating effects of climate change….The task force set up will ensure that impediments to projects will be especially addressed for the accelerated introduction of renewable energies, especially in built-up areas, while preserving open spaces, as well as waste treatment facilities.”
Also, ahead of the Glasgow COP26 Summit, President Isaac Herzog announced on October 20, 2021, the establishment of the Israeli Climate Forum, which will lead deliberations about the climate crisis and the State of Israel’s role in the fight against it. The forum will include representatives from several authorities: the Government, the Knesset, Israeli academia, local authorities, and the business and industrial sector. The forum will operate under the auspices of the Office of the President and will convene several times a year.
The establishment of the Israeli Climate Forum is meant to underscore Israel’s commitment to stand at the forefront of the global debate about the climate crisis, raise awareness among all parts of Israel’s leadership about the crisis and its severity, promote collaboration between government ministries involved in the matter together with different groups and sectors in Israeli society, and will promote regional and international collaboration to push for a response to the climate crisis.
Herzog appointed former Member of Knesset Dr. Dov Khenin to manage the forum, which will operate with Life and Environment, the official umbrella organization of the environmental movement in Israel which includes more than 130 environmental organizations.
Herzog emphasized the importance of collaborative relationships to the resolution of the climate crisis:
“Israel’s State of Climate Tech 2021,” a report by the Israel Innovation Authority and the Israel Innovation Institute’s PLANETech, found that nearly 1,200 companies addressing climate challenge have been established since 2000. These include:
- 235 companies are developing clean energy systems
- 212 companies are working on climate-smart agriculture systems
- 127 in sustainable mobility and transport
- 45 companies developing alternative proteins.
In addition, more than 560 private investment entities, mostly foreign venture capital funds, invested a total of $2.97 billion in Israeli climate companies between 2018 and 2020. The Israeli government invested $280 million in climate start-ups during the same period.
Sources: “Ahead of Glasgow COP26 Summit in November, President Isaac Herzog announces establishment of Israeli Climate Forum under the auspices of the Office of the President,” (October 20, 2021).
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“Prime Minister Naftali Bennett Declares the tackling of Climate Change as a New National Security Interest of Israel,” Prime Minister’s Office, (October 24, 2021).