European Environment and Health Process
The EHP brings together 53 countries, including Israel, to address key environment and health challenges. The process began in 1989, but was revised and formalized at a ministerial conference in Parma, Italy in 2010, to ensure implementation of commitments made at that conference in what was called the Parma Declaration.
The task force mid-term review taking place this week provides an opportunity for participants to look at the progress that has been made since the Parma conference five years ago, and what steps must still be taken before the next ministerial conference, set for 2017.
Topics in focus at the meeting include air pollution, safe drinking water and sanitation, elimination of asbestos related diseases, exposure to toxic chemicals, the impact of climate change, and more.
Learn more about the EHP and the mid-term review.
Protection of Public Health from Environmental Risks in Israel
At a press conference during the mid-term review, MoEP Director General David Leffler referred to the recent media attention that’s gone to the issue of air pollution and health in Haifa, where the meeting is being held.
Director General David Leffler: "2,500 people die in Israel every year as a result of the impact of air pollution. 50% of air pollution [in Israel] comes from transportation. I want to correct the misleading impression that’s been created in the media – those who live in the center of the country, near major traffic arteries, suffer from air pollution no less than those who live in Haifa.
"The MoEP’s battle against air pollution includes inspection and enforcement in accordance with the strictest European standards. Thus we have succeeded in reducing industrial air pollution in Haifa Bay by 70%. We are battling against vehicular air pollution by adopting advanced Euro emissions standards that will require heavy-duty vehicles to switch to cleaner fuel or natural gas. It is up to the government and its ministries to speed up the transition to the use of natural gas in both industry and transportation."
Other actions the MoEP has taken or plans to take to reduce both vehicular and industrial air pollution include:
- Preparing a national program to reduce air pollution, under Israel’s Clean Air Law. The cost of the program was NIS 680 million. However only NIS 100 million were actually budgeted for it.
- Regulating businesses through individual orders and by setting business license terms such as stricter emission standards, requirements to use Best Availble Technologies for reducing emissions.
- Monitoring air pollution in Haifa Bay, through the National Air Monitoring Network, one of the densest monitoring networks in the world. Monitoring of air pollution from transportation, however, is still lacking. Thus the ministry seeks to increase monitoring of air quality in close proximity to major transportation routes.
- A project targeting emissions from coal-fired power stations is expected to result in a emissions reduction of more than 80%.
- Seeking to promote the expansion of natural gas infrastructure as a national goal, in order to connect as many factories, vehicle fleets and other energy consumers to natural gas.
- Leading a governmental process to formulate a national goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, as part of the UN Climate Convention. This can lead to large-scale economic and environmental revenues.
- Assisting energy consumers such as industries and local authorities to increase their energy efficiency while reducing pollution. (Unfortunately, an MoEP energy efficiency program that provided grants to businesses and local authorities was frozen in 2013 after a two-year run. The ministry is working with the Finance Ministry toward its renewal.)
It should be noted that in 2011, the MoEP has instructed local authorities in several cities to prepare plans to reduce transport-related air pollution. However, none of those local authorities have completed such plans.
Learn more about MoEP actions to reduce air pollution from transportation and about pollution in the Haifa Bay Industrial Zone.
Mid-term Review Publications
In anticipation of the task force mid-term review, the WHO has published a document that details much of the work that has been done to date in these fields. Click to read the document: Improving Environment and Health in Europe: How Far Have we Gotten?
In addition, the WHO published documents on specific environmental and health challenges being addressed by the EHP:
- Economic Cost of the Health Impact of Air Pollution in Europe: Clean Air, Health and Wealth
- Water and Sanitation in the WHO European Region: 2014 Highlights
- Implementing the European Regional Framework for Action to protect health from climate change. A status report
- Human Biomonitoring: Facts and Figures
- School Environment: Policies and Current Status