Ministers Avi Gabbay and Dr. Barbara Hendricks at the Sustainable Innovation Conference
Photo: Aviad Weitzman
The Ministry of Environmental Protection (MoEP) has publicized its recommendations for a national greenhouse gas reduction target for Israel. The country should reduce emissions by 30% over the next 15 years, said the MoEP at its Conference on Sustainable Innovation, which was held on July 14, 2015 in Ramat Gan. The cumulative economic benefit of implementing an emissions reduction plan is estimated to be NIS 125 billion, primarily due to less morbidity and mortality from air pollution, and to savings on fuel and electricity.

Sustainable Innovation Conference

Round table discussion at the Sustainable Innovation Conference Photo: Aviad Weitzman

Round table discussion at the Sustainable Innovation Conference
Photo: Aviad Weitzman

The Sustainable Innovation Conference was hosted by Israel’s Ministries of Environmental Protection (MoEP) and Economy and by Germany’s Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety. It was organized in advance of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference to be held in Paris in December 2015.

Top environmental and industry officials in Israel, Germany, and at the UN will participate in the conference, including:

  1. Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay
  2. David Leffler, MoEP Director General
  3. Dr. Barbara Hendricks, German Minister Barbara for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety Policy
  4. Caio Kai Koch-Weser, Vice Chairman, Deutsche Bank & member of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate
  5. Dr. Halldór Thorgeirsson, Director for Strategy, Executive Direction and Management, UNFCCC (Dr. Thorgeirsson’s speech)
  6. Simon Buckle, Head of Climate Change, Biodiversity and Water Division of the Environment Directorate, OECD
  7. Professor Eugene Kendel, Head of the National Economic Council, Prime Minister’s Office
  8. Christoph Freiherr von Speßhardt, Manager of Public Affairs, Knauf Insulation GmbH and Vice Chairman, German Industry Initiative for Energy Efficiency


Click here for the full conference schedule and session topics.

GHG Emissions Reduction Target: 30% by 2030

A new international climate agreement expected to be adopted at the Paris summit in December will include binding emission reduction targets for all Parties, including Israel. Under the previous binding agreement – the Kyoto Protocol – Israel was considered a developing country and so was not legally obligated to reduce GHG emissions.

Israel will submit its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the UNFCCC Secretariat within the next few months. The INDC will detail the climate actions Israel intends to take under the new agreement, including a GHG reduction target. While the MoEP recommended a 30% target at the conclusion of the Sustainable Innovation conference, the ultimate target that is submitted will have to be approved by the Israeli government. The government should receive the official MoEP recommendation by September.

Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay: “Israel has all the necessary conditions to be a leader in progressive climate policy. We have gas, the sun, funding, and brains that know how to find solutions. Our program will leverage all these advantages in order to create a growth engine for the economy. And the technologies that are developed here will provide global solutions to cope with climate change.”

The MoEP came up with its recommendation for a 30% reduction on the basis of the work of an inter-ministerial committee that has been studying the issue in depth. The committee conducted an analysis of Israel’s potential for reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gases in various sectors, including:

  1. electricity generation
  2. industry
  3. transportation
  4. residential and commercial buildings
  5. waste, and
  6. agriculture.


Experts formulated an economically feasible scenario for the year 2030 that included a strategy to realize a 30% reduction target, compared to business as usual. A 30% reduction of GHG emissions in Israel is the equivalent of between 30-34 million tons of greenhouse gases. Adopting this target will lead to an emissions level of between 6.9-7.4 million tons per capita, a level similar to that found in much of the European Union.

If global mitigation commitments are not met, the world could experience unprecedented heat waves, severe drought, and major floods by the year 2060.

Recommended Measures to Reduce GHG Emissions

  1. Energy efficiency: The analysis shows the economic advantage as well as the great potential for reduction in emissions through a change in air conditioning and lighting systems in the commercial, public, and domestic sectors. In addition, there is potential for significant savings in industry through a change in the approach to energy management and local production of electricity and heat (cogeneration). Together, these can result in an 18% decrease in Israel’s electricity consumption, a savings of billions of shekels, and can nullify the need for construction of new power plant.
  2. Electricity generation: The analysis highlighted the significant reduction and economic viability that would result from a transition to natural gas for electricity production, as opposed to using polluting fuels such as coal and diesel. Prioritizing natural gas use over coal would lead to a significant reduction in GHG emissions and pollution.
  3. Renewable energy: Increasing the amount of renewable energy in Israel’s fuel basket to 22% by 2030 would lead to a reduction of about 20% of the GHG reduction target and would increase long-term energy security.
  4. Public transportation: Implementing a plan to greatly improve Israel’s public transportation systems will result in a decision by 25% of those who now drive private vehicles to use mass transit instead – including buses, trains, and light rails. This switch would not only provide economic benefits, from the use of compressed gas in heavy duty vehicles, mainly trucks and buses, but would also result in a reduction of air pollution and would ease traffic congestion in city centers.


Some of the main policy tools that can be used to reach the 30% reduction target include:

  1. Prioritization of natural gas over coal in electricity production;
  2. The establishment of a national fund to increase energy efficiency, which would enable funding and support of energy efficiency projects;
  3. The creation of an economic incentive for electricity producers to reduce energy use;
  4. The adoption of a national green building standard for new construction; and
  5. Development of an improved public transportation system.