D-Gs in Conversation: A Government Vision for Israel 2050
For the past two years, the Israel Democracy Institute, in collaboration with the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Energy, the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Finance, and the OECD, has been leading a multi-sectoral and cross-ministerial process.
Minister of Environmental Protection Gila Gamliel: “The climate is not only a burning environmental issue but also an economic, social, and essential security matter. Climate change and a worsening of the environmental situation pose an existential threat to Israel and the world. In order to overcome these challenges, Israel needs a new growth strategy that will make it a country with an economical, modern, and competitive economy. My vision is to turn the State of Israel into a sustainable economy….The COVID pandemic illustrates how global crises that originate in nature can affect our economy, health, and quality of life….”
“I believe that the financial system should and must be an integral part of the green revolution in Israel, and investors must be allowed to choose wisely how to act according to their worldview, to invest in corporations and financial instruments that incorporate environmental considerations, and to lessen their investments in polluting factors that ignore the environmental impact.”
Ofer Malka, Director General, Ministry of Transport and Road Safety “We took advantage of the COVID crisis and the closures to advance the railway electrification program - we condensed schedules by 5 years”
Ofer Malka, director general of the Ministry of Transport and Road Safety: “Public transportation is a key component in the strategic and economic development of the State of Israel. We can see, following the COVID pandemic, that local employment centers can be developed. Before the crisis, the option of working from home was not common, but the truth is that a company doesn’t have to concentrate in one physical area; instead, it can have regional employment centers. Today, the Minister of Transport is spearheading the idea of transport centers that also have business development: when a person arriving at a train station has their daily commercial needs met inside the station, this will reduce the need to travel and encourage the use of public transport.”
David Yahalomi, director general of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, addressed carbon emission targets in the waste sector: “We intend to reduce close to 50% of carbon emissions waste by 2030 and to reach a dramatic reduction of about 92% by 2050. In the work we did in 2018, in which all the built-up areas in Israel were mapped, we found that close to 50% of Israel's electricity consumption can be generated using the built-up areas and solar panels can be installed. We can reach 40% of renewable energy by 2030….”
“We are far from EU standards. While various countries have reduced their carbon emissions by 18%, Israel’s have risen by 17%. It is important to understand that a greener environment is also more economical. We will have to set the price for carbon; if we do not do it, the Europeans will do it for us, and then we will also have to pay Europe to those manufacturers who meet the requirements and we will not be competitive.”
Regarding the carbon emission goal David Leffler, director of the Ministry of Economy and Industry, said: “The great national project was born out of the Paris Agreement, according to which there was global commitment to a transition to a low-carbon economy and Israel undertook to reduce 40% of its carbon emissions by 2050. We are trying to change the gases used in industrial plants to ones less harmful to the ozone, and we want to achieve an annual 16% reduction in these gas emissions.”
Comparing Israel to the rest of the world Leffler said: “At the heart of our endeavor is the concept of a “circular economy.” In the advanced Western world, of which we want to be a part, we will not be able to continue polluting the environment. 90% of the treatment of pollution in Israel is at the end point, at the end of the process, when pollution has already been released into the environment; only then do we try to treat it. Elsewhere in the world, the trend is that 50% of the treatment of pollution is at the source of the pollution, streamlining the processes in the factories.”
Dalit Zilber, director general of the Israel Planning Administration: “The issue of green construction was signed on in 2020 and will take effect in March 2022. Urban renewal improves cities by adding housing units within existing frameworks. Israel’s strategic plan and that of the planning director dictates that an addition of approximately 60% of housing units out of the total housing units for 2020–2040 will be part of urban renewal projects. This is a very big challenge.”
On renewable energy Zilber added: “We promote a nationwide masterplan for multiplication of uses in all facilities and renewable energy. For example, agriculture needs to find the complementary means – be it on rooftops, water reservoirs – not just planning; anything that will allow us to cover photovoltaics. The goals set by the state are excellent, but we need to know how they will not eliminate all open spaces.”
Ehud (Udi) Adiri, director general of the Ministry of Energy: “The climate crisis forces us to look beyond the normal planning range. One thing is dependent on the other: if you take vehicles and transfer them to electricity, then this increases the demand for electricity and you have to ensure that the electricity grid is reliable. If electricity in Israel is not reliable and reasonably priced, no one will switch to an electric vehicle.”
Regarding the plan to lower carbon emission Adiri noted: “In the last two years we have built a solid plan for 2030 consisting of several policy measures: the closure of all carbon plants in Israel by 2025 and the complete cessation of coal-based electricity production; an increase in Israel's renewable energies target to 30% by 2030; an energy empowerment program of 1.3% per year; and a general goal of switching to electric transportation and transportation free of fossil fuels…. “
“The plans lead to a reduction of more than 90% of air pollution from electricity generation and, together with energy efficiency, more than a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions. If we do not meet these intermediate targets, it is a clear sign that we have deviated from the path to 2050 – and the targets we are setting for it are an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases. Any scenario based on a high rate of renewable energy cannot be reached if we do not reach at least 50% renewable energy.”
Regarding the corona crisis versus international commitments, Daphna Aviram-Nitzan, director of the IDI Center for Governance and the Economy: “In the past two years, five government ministries, in extraordinary cooperation with the Israel Democracy Institute and accompanied by the OECD, have led a complex and challenging move to formulate international goals for the transition to a low-carbon economy. The climate crisis is getting closer every day and the public understands this: recent survey findings show that the majority of the Israeli public is aware of the risks of global warming, is concerned about this, and believes that the Israeli government should prepare accordingly. The way to reduce polluting energy consumption and move over to greener and more efficient energy is through the removal of bureaucratic and regulatory barriers, green building, the installation of solar panels on roofs, the development of a public transport infrastructure, electric vehicles, the encouragement of the business sector to develop storage and renewable energy technologies and to invest, and adapt.
Dr. Gil Proaktor, head of the Ministry of Environmental Protection’s Energy and Climate Change Policy, presented the effects of the formulated strategy: “The new strategy on waste that the ministry formulated will lead to a complete cessation of waste in Israel and turn it into a resource. This will allow us to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 92%. As throughout the world, industry in Israel will also undergo far-reaching changes. This strategy will allow us to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50% by 2050….”
“Pollution damage is expected to increase rapidly due to an increase in the number of vehicles and congestion on the roads. Implementing the national strategy for switching to electric transportation and reducing road travel will allow us to stop pollution in the next decade and reduce it to almost zero by 2050. The realization of the vision and the transition to a low-carbon economy are the insurance certificate that provides Israel with the resilience to cope with climate change and prosper in a low-carbon world.”
Yuval Laster, director of the Ministry of Environmental Protection’s Policy and Strategy Division: “In the coming weeks we will present a memorandum of a law that will deal with climate change to the government and continue to further government policy to set a price on carbon. We will work to promote a low-carbon, competitive, innovative, and highly productive Israeli industry. The transition to a low-carbon economy will benefit all residents of Israel – we believe that the implementation of this program will improve their quality of life and that they, in turn, will take responsibility for their consumption habits while internalizing their responsibility for future generations."
The Eli Hurvitz Conference on Economy and Society – formerly the Caesarea Economic Policy Planning Forum – is widely recognized as Israel's most influential economic conference. For 27 years, the conference has served as a crossroads where public discourse and professional knowledge in economics and society meet, with the aim of improving decision-making processes in the administration and improving the quality of Israel's social and economic policy for the benefit of the entire public. The conference this year focuses on: macroeconomic policy in times of economic crisis; the labor market; the Israeli education system; governance in a time of crisis; strengthening the health system's readiness for crisis situations; and the relationship between local and central government. The conference is the apex of research and theoretical and practical research by working and thinking groups comprised of senior officials in the Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Finance, the Prime Minister's Office, academics, IDI experts, civil society representatives, and other partners. Together, the teams led research and developed policy recommendations on issues closely related to the conference sessions, which will be presented during the conference, held online this year from December 14 to December 16.