Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett as the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Scotland in November.
Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett as the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Scotland in November.Credit: ALASTAIR GRANT / AFP

Haaretz Editorial Apr. 10, 2022

While the leading authority on climate science has issued a scathing report and made it clear that humanity is on a dangerous path toward destruction, Israel’s finance and energy ministries are raising objections and exerting pressure to fatally weaken the climate bill scheduled for discussion Sunday in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation.

The report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is the third in a series of alarming reports that have been published recently. The message is clear: If humanity genuinely seeks to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels – a level that would cause dramatic change to life on Earth – then “it’s now or never.” But the latest report is not all doom and gloom. It contains two important messages. The first is that there are many effective measures that can be taken now. The goal is clear: cutting greenhouse gas emissions quickly and significantly, as a step toward stopping the use of polluting fossil fuels such as coal, crude oil and natural gas once and for all. The second message is that the most significant barriers to positive change are not technological, but rather a lack of political will as well as stakeholders who create obstacles, including the gas and oil industry.

Every Israeli, regardless of their political views, place of residence or economic status, will see their health and quality of life affected by the climate crisis. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was right to pledge to the world that Israel would reach its target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, describing the crisis as a “genuine problem” But in recent days, instead of sticking to his word, the Prime Minister’s Office exerted heavy pressure on the Environmental Protection Ministry to accept objections to the articles of the climate bill that give it teeth (Zafrir Rinat, April 4). Treasury and Energy Ministry officials continue to object to giving real authority to the Environmental Protection Ministry, or making the directives that could move the entire country in the right direction legally binding. The result is a climate law bill that is worse than nothing, according to environmental activists. Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman has even announced a new move to increase gasoline demand, while Energy Minister Karine Elharrar has avoided taking a firm, clear stance against polluting companies.

The government must take seriously the remarks of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres after the report’s publication. He called the report “a litany of broken climate promises,” “a file of shame, cataloging the empty pledges that put us firmly on track towards an unlivable world… Some Government and business leaders are saying one thing, but doing another. Simply put, they are lying. And the results will be catastrophic. This is a climate emergency.”

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.