The program encompasses a wide range of guidelines whose implementation should bring about a continuous reduction and prevention of pollutant emissions to the air.

 Israel's first national program for air pollution reduction

 

On December 11, 2011, the Ministry of Environmental Protection distributed Israel’s first ever multiannual national program for the prevention and reduction of air pollution. The program encompasses a wide range of guidelines whose implementation should bring about a continuous reduction and prevention of pollutant emissions to the air. The Israel Cabinet will vote on the plan in the coming weeks.

Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan stated: "Implementation of the program which was mandated under the Clean Air Law will respond to the most severe environmental problem in Israel that is responsible for the death of hundreds of people every year. Israel which is about to become the most densely populated Western country must urgently implement the program which we prepared to avoid the severe levels of air pollution which exist in countries such as China."

During the course of preparing the program and assessing the health impacts of air pollution exceedances which are expected in Israel in light of increases in population and in transportation and industrial activities, it was found that hundreds of additional deaths and thousands of additional hospitalizations will occur every year. The cost of these health damages to the economy may reach 7.8 billion shekels in 2015 and 8.5 billion shekels in 2020.

Minister Erdan noted that adoption of the program will position Israel on par with advanced countries which have adopted such plans years ago.

Following are some examples of policies included in the national air pollution reduction program:

A. Transportation

  • Broadening the scrapping program for old vehicles – increasing the amount paid per scrapped vehicle, adding vehicles from additional years of production to the benefit program, applying the program to commercial vehicles which are responsible for major air pollution.
  • Economically incentivizing high occupancy vehicles on toll roads by means of lower toll rates.
  • Moving forward the obligation to purchase lower pollution buses and promoting the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in public transport (beginning with a pilot project of three LNG-powered buses).
  • Encouraging employers to reduce employee commuting by private car by means of a 60 million shekel grant program to companies that will encourage their workers to reduce the use of the private car as a means of transport to work.
  • Economically incentivizing the purchase of hybrid taxis.

B. Energy production

  • Enforcing the decision of the National Planning and Building Board to operate the new power plant in Ashkelon as a natural gas station.
  • Applying an electricity tariff based on load and time to households so as to enable them to benefit from the nighttime operation of electrical appliances (washing machine, dishwasher, etc.) at reduced electricity rates.
  • Reviewing the implementation of a differential electricity tariff which is dependent on the scope of consumption and the times of consumption.
  • Formulating a plan for integrating a smart grid for electricity consumption.

C. Industry

  • Updating standards to achieve reductions in sulfur dioxide emissions from fuel consumption.
  • Formulating a plan for the reduction of respirable particles from quarries.
  • Allocating tens of millions of shekels a year for expanding the national air quality monitoring network  to cover other areas and include pollutants which are not currently monitored.

The plan was prepared by the Air Quality Division of the Ministry of Environmental Protection over the past two years. For the purpose of preparing the plan the Ministry commissioned international consulting companies which came to Israel expressly for the purpose of drafting the program, which includes a review of health and economic damages caused by air pollution. The plan is based on the work of a public expert committee on air quality in Israel and was accompanied by an interministerial committee which included representatives of government, statutory authorities, public organization and NGOs.

The plan will reduce air pollution related mortality and morbidity and will save the economy about a billion and a half shekels every year.