Participant nations are aiming to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement to ensure that global warming does not surpass 2°C.
Some 70 Israeli officials and environmentalists arrived in Paris on Monday for the 12-day annual United Nations Conference on Climate Change.

Led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay, the Israeli delegation to the convention – also known as the Conference of Parties (COP-21) – includes some 70 participants from a variety of government bodies and civil society organizations.

“Israel is coming to COP with objectives for dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, which can lead our economy toward become based on cleaner energy, like gas and sun, instead of polluting fuels,” Gabbay said on Monday.

“The primary solution that we as a government need to advance is natural gas at a reasonable price, which enables its use in industry and transportation.”

Opening on Monday with addresses from some 150 heads of state from around the world, COP-21 will continue through December 11. Participant nations are aiming to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement to ensure that global warming does not surpass 2°C. This year’s summit in Paris is the 21st such annual conference to occur as a result of the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, during which countries adopted the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Prior to COP-21, all participant nations were expected to submit their Intended National Determined Contribution (INDC) plans to the UNFCCC, the terms of which can vary according to their individual national conditions.

Before submitting its INDC to the UNFCC, the Israeli government in mid-September approved greenhouse gas emissions targets to be met by 2030, among other relevant environmental goals. The Finance Ministry allocated the program an initial budget of NIS 500 million, with additional grants worth NIS 300m. for energy efficiency investments over the course of four years.

Israel’s targets involve a 25 percent reduction in its 2005 greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 – limiting residents to 7.7 tons of carbon dioxide per capita. In addition to setting goals for curbing greenhouse gas emissions, the government’s plan involves making renewable energy resources responsible for 17% of the country’s electricity mix by 2030, as well as reducing overall electricity consumption by the same percentage.

The targets also include a 20% decrease in private vehicle usage.

Netanyahu will deliver his speech at COP- 21 on Monday. Throughout the convention, the delegation members will take part in numerous international discussions on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the Environment Ministry said. The Israelis will also hold a series of side events in order to present the country’s perspective on global readiness for coping with climate change, the ministry added.

Among the delegation members are Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee Chairman David Amsalem (Likud), MK Revital Swid (Zionist Union), academics, green organization members and representatives from the Environmental Protection; Foreign; Economy; and National Infrastructure, Energy and Water ministries.

Speaking with The Jerusalem Post on Monday afternoon, Amsalem stressed that the Israeli delegates have come to the convention in order to demonstrate the country’s seriousness about combating climate change. In particular, he emphasized the importance of “increasing electricity production from natural and green sources” like solar and wind energy, as well as converting more vehicles to running on electricity and natural gas.

Asked if he felt that COP-21 would truly lead to a successful agreement signed among the nations present, Amsalem pointed to “the very significant participation of the heads of state” at the conference.

“It’s important that the world is beginning to come to the understanding that we must take care of this whole subject – global warming,” he said. “I see the seriousness of the countries. Therefore, I truly believe that this will work.”