Transportation main source of emissions in Israel in terms of external cost in a report by the Environmental Protection Ministry.

By TZVI JOFFRE   JUNE 27, 2021

Israelis stand on beach in front of a coal power station in Ashkelon (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

Israelis stand on beach in front of a coal power station in Ashkelon (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

Emissions cost Israel NIS 31 billion in external costs in 2018, with the main source of costly pollution coming from transportation, according to a report published by the Environmental Protection Ministry on Thursday.External cost expresses the negative effects on human health and the environment caused by emissions as a monetary value. The cost is calculated in order to help decision makers take into account the value of these damages when making policy decisions.

Greenhouse gases, which cause damage at the global level, accounted for about NIS 11.3b. (36%) in external costs, while 18 other pollutants, which cause damage at a local level, accounted for NIS 19.8b. (64%) in external costs. Nitrogen oxides accounted for the largest share of the external costs (36%), followed by carbon dioxide (29%).

Transportation was the main source of emissions in terms of external cost, making up 38% of the external cost. Emissions from power plants came in second at 30%, followed by industry with 16%.In 2019, emissions from industry and electricity production decreased due to a reduction in the use of coal and oil for electricity production and the installation of measures to reduce emissions. The Environmental Protection Ministry estimates that this led to a decrease in external costs by about NIS 450 million in 2019, about 3% of the cost of emissions from electricity generation and industry.

A similar reduction likely occurred in 2020, according to the report, meaning that the total external cost of emissions to the economy at the end of 2020 likely amounts to about NIS 30b.“

The report presents a frightening picture, and for the first time there is a price tag in shekels for polluting emissions,” said Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg. “The conclusion is that the war on the climate crisis is at the core of Israel’s national and economic resilience and should serve the government, planning institutions, commercial companies and environmental organizations when it comes to assessing the broader picture of the effects of air pollution and greenhouse gases on us.”

“This data leads to the conclusion that the Israeli target for renewable energies should be raised to 40% by 2030, and to reach zero polluting emissions by 2050,” added Zandberg. “This is an ambitious and achievable goal that will save the Israeli economy billions a year.”In the report, the Environmental Protection Ministry pushed for a target of having 40% of Israel’s electricity generation coming from renewable energy sources by 2030. The switch is expected to save the country about NIS 4.5b. per year in external costs.

The ministry also pushed for implementing a plan to switch all public buses to be pollutant-free by 2025 and, starting in 2030, requiring all vehicles imported to Israel to be zero emissions. The report additionally called for the government to purchase electric vehicles and invest in charging infrastructure.The plan would save Israel NIS 970m. in 2030, with the savings rising each year afterwards, depending on how quickly the plan is implemented. The savings estimate is based on an estimate that 25% of vehicles in Israel will be electric vehicles in 2030 (compared to just 1% today).

Earlier this month, Transportation Minister  Merav Michaeli told Haaretz that a joint team between the Transportation Ministry and the Environmental Protection Ministry would accompany all decision making processes in the Transportation Ministry in order to ensure that new projects include environmental considerations.“Transportation shapes our lives and our environment,” said Michaeli to Haaretz. “Therefore, it is of utmost importance that all transportation planning be done so that we create a pleasant environment, an environment that promotes equality, a clean environment and clear air.”

Michaeli plans to focus on getting Israelis to switch from private vehicles to using public transportation which is connected and electric, as well as developing incentives and infrastructure for private electric vehicles in the short term.