Israel's Road to Copenhagen

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"Our Climate, Our Future, Your Decision". Demonstrators on the opening day of the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen, December 7 2009. Photo: Department of Energy & Climate Change´s flickr site. This image is subject to a Creative Commons license.


December 9, 2009

From December 7th to 18th, 2009 the much awaited for United Nations Climate Conference (COP 15) is taking place in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Heinrich Boell Foundation in Israel is supporting a delegation of Israeli NGOs from the Sustainability Coalition working under the auspices of the environmental umbrella organization Life & Environment, to actively advocate for a comprehensive climate policy by the Israeli government. They will be monitoring closely the steps of the official Israeli delegation there and will be networking with environmental NGOs the world over. The coalition just published a position paper in English that will serve as a basis for their work in Copenhagen. The position paper states, “We call upon the government of Israel…. to further develop an advanced climate policy, based on principles of socially and environmentally sustainable development. Public participation must be ensured throughout this process.” Click here to download the position paper.
Kyoto – Bali - Copenhagen

The purpose of the COP 15 is to reach a global agreement on greenhouse gas emission reduction that will succeed the Kyoto Protocol from 1997. After the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was concluded at the “Earth Summit” in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992, the Kyoto Protocol determined binding targets for emission reduction by 37 industrialized countries for the first time. Following the ratification process those targets were supposed to be achieved between 2008 and 2012. However, most of these countries have not put strong enough efforts in achieving those goals and are not fulfilling their global responsibility towards the rest of the world, including the financing of adaptation to climate change in developing countries. For more on the topic of development rights, please see The Greenhouse Development Rights Framework, published by the Heinrich Boell Stiftung, Christian Aid, EcoEquity and the Stockholm Environment Institute.

At the COP 13 in Bali in 2007 the parties decided on the Bali Action Plan. This plan strives towards a new long-term agreement which is to be negotiated in Copenhagen, and must be ratified in time to follow the Kyoto Protocol ending in 2012. Although many are pessimistic about the outcome of the conference, the goal of the Danish government is to reach an “ambitious global agreement including all the countries of the world”. All agree that there must be some kind of breakthrough in Copenhagen if global warming is to be seriously combated over the next crucial decades.

Israel in Copenhagen

The delegation supported by the Heinrich Boell Stiftung Israel consists of 30 NGO activists and is listed as an observer NGO at the COP 15 in Copenhagen. In addition to lobbying the official Israeli delegation, the coalition will run some workshops and events at the Klimaforum (Climate Forum). The Klimaforum is the global civil society counterpart of the official UN conference and creates an open space for movements, organizations and people from all over the world to discuss and develop solutions to the climate crisis. Altogether about 190 talks, 50 exhibitions, 30 movies, theatre and music events are part of the program. Life & Environment and the Sustainability Coalition are hosting two events. They will screen the movie “Urban Legend – a Documentary” by Nitzan Horowitz, MK, on December 17th at 19:00 and hold a session titled “NO to COAL Campaign – a Case Study” about the movement against the new coal power plant in Ashkelon on December 18th at 10:00.

The emphasis of the NGO delegation however rests on influencing Israeli policy. Problematically, Israel is not listed as an Annex I country within the Kyoto Protocol. This means that is does not have any binding emission reduction targets. Changing this and accepting internationally binding reduction targets would be the first step for a strong climate policy in this region. As Israel also strives to become a member of the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) it needs to take responsibility like any other industrialized country. However, the government has still not decided on any policy regarding the COP 15 conference. The position right now is to think only about minimizing the increase of greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years. As studies estimate a large increase of Israel´s emissions by 2030, this approach contradicts any attempt to seriously cut greenhouse gas emissions in Israel.

The coalition plans on building a road from Copenhagen back to Jerusalem to put pressure on implementing policy change in Israel post-Copenhagen. Fortunately the awareness among Israeli society about the problems of climate change and its urgency is rising (see a recent press release from an HBS supported climate survey in English or in Hebrew). Since more and more people expect results from decision makers in the form of regulations, incentives and infrastructure, there is still hope for stronger climate action and a transition to a greener economy in Israel in the future.

Click here to read the Heinrich Boell Foundation's briefing paper for the Climate Summit in Copenhagen, 7-18 December 2009