Despite pledges to pass new eco-legislation, Israeli preparation lags far behind

Israelis take part in a protest against climate change during an event in Tel Aviv, Israel September 27, 2019.
Israelis take part in a protest against climate change during an event in Tel Aviv, Israel September 27, 2019.Credit: \ AMMAR AWAD/


Mar 21, 2023

Without drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions before the end of this decade, the 1.5 degrees Celsius global warming limit will be exceeded in the 2030s, according to the United Nations panel of climate scientists.

“There is a rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all,” the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) wrote in the report published on Monday.

Why a former U.S. ambassador joined Israel’s pro-democracy protests

The so-called synthesis report summarizes the results of six previous assessments and encapsulates the state of scientific knowledge on human-caused climate change.

For the last week, 650 government representatives and scientists have been negotiating the precise wording of the report in Interlaken, Switzerland.

“The climate time-bomb is ticking. But today’s IPCC report is a how-to guide to defuse the climate time-bomb. It is a survival guide for humanity,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said during the presentation of the report on Monday.

Climate change is already affecting every region across the globe, the report stated. It named more intense heatwaves, heavier rainfall, and other extreme weather events as risks for human health and ecosystems.

Vulnerable communities which have historically contributed the least to global warming are disproportionately affected, it pointed out.

According to the IPCC, global emissions need to be reduced by 48% by 2030 compared to 2019 to keep warming below 1.5 degrees and prevent the worst consequences of climate change.

“The urgency to do something by 2030 has increased,” said co-author Matthias Garschagen, a climate researcher at Munich’s Ludwig Maximilian University.

For the first time, the IPCC has also given a corresponding target for 2035: emissions need to be reduced by 65% compared to 2019.

There is sufficient global capital to rapidly reduce emissions, but existing barriers are preventing it from being redirected for this purpose, the IPCC said.

Governments, through public funding and clear signals to investors, are key to reducing these barriers. Investors, central banks, and financial regulators can also play their part.

The IPCC is an intergovernmental body led by the United Nations with representatives from 195 member countries. The reports it approves are the basis for further climate negotiations at the political level. The last synthesis report was published in 2018.

More signs of climate change: Intensifying flooding in Israel's desert
More signs of climate change: Intensifying flooding in Israel’s desert (2018)Credit: Nir Keidar

The IPCC’s report is intended to guide governments to make the necessary policy decisions needed to mitigate and avert the effects of Earth’s warming climate.

They have already received summaries for policy makers of all six sub-reports since 2018.

This synthesis report is the conclusion of the sixth assessment cycle on climate change, with a new cycle to begin in the coming months. The next major reports are expected to be published in five to seven years.

The IPCC’s most recent three reports, published in 2021 and 2022, were alarming, warning that climate change is proceeding faster and with more consequences than previously assumed.

Global warming is currently at 1.1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the IPCC reported.

Brutal anti-environmental measures

And what about Israel? Despite the country warming twice as fast as the global average – and even if other countries manage to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions significantly, the planet will grow 4 degrees warmer by the end of the century – Israeli preparation lags far behind.

Both Minister of Environmental Protection Idit Silman and the coalition agreements have vowed to pass a new Climate Bill memorandum within half a year of the new government taking office, including a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target in the current decade, twice as high as that promoted by the previous government: From a 27 percent reduction to fifty percent, as in other Western countries.

Israel's Environmental Protection Minister Idit Silman
Israel’s Environmental Protection Minister Idit SilmanCredit: Ohad Zwigenberg

In practice, three months following the government’s establishment, the bill has yet to be passed on any of three votes – and the government is promoting brutal anti-environmental measures, which neuter the ability to reduce emissions, and has repealed the tax on disposable utensils. Recently Haaretz has reported that Silman met with climate denier groups, following which her office was flooded with scientists wishing to meet with her.

Now, the minister has sent a response to the report, stressing that she does not deny climate science and is calling for government action. “According to the report, despite plans and preparations advanced around the globe, the gap in preparation is still very great, and will only grow if we don’t greatly increase the scope and pace of actions. The world is unprepared and is in danger. The report sharpens the urgent need to advance the Climate Bill we are leading and promoting Israel’s preparations in government ministries and municipalities.”

Silman added that, “The report states that global warming, unprecedented in the earth’s history, stems from greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity. We have the ability to make an impact – decisions we make today and steps

Young Israelis protest to demand action on climate change.
Young Israelis protest to demand action on climate change.Credit: Moti Milrod

we take, will impact us and future generations. The report sharpens the need for urgent advancement of the Climate Bill and Israel’s preparation.”

Environmental Protection Ministry Chief Scientist, Prof. Noga Kronfeld-Schor: “Global warming has already caused rapid and widespread changes in the sea, on land, and at the poles, impacting life all over the earth. The weather is becoming more extreme, with a much higher rate of change than was expected by the panel’s fifth report, in part due to mutual reinforcement of the various impacts.”