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Lapid, senior staff meet top officials to discuss climate crisis

Energy minister tells PM she will plan for cabinet approval on Sunday to ease regulations for solar panels, exempt renewable technologies from import tax

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid and staff from the Prime Minister's Office learn what relevant ministries are doing to prepare for climate change at the Kirya in Tel Aviv, on August 31, 2022. (Haim Zach, GPO)
Prime Minister Yair Lapid and staff from the Prime Minister's Office learn what relevant ministries are doing to prepare for climate change at the Kirya in Tel Aviv, on August 31, 2022. (Haim Zach, GPO)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid met Wednesday with the ministers for environmental protection and energy to discuss the country’s preparations for the effects of climate change.

At the meeting, Energy Minister Karine Elharrar said that her ministry would bring on Sunday a plan for cabinet approval aimed at speeding up the renewable energy rollout by simplifying the regulations, removing obstacles and erasing import taxes for technologies critical to solar energy deployment and energy saving.

Among those attending the discussion were senior staff from the Prime Minister’s Office, the cabinet secretary, the head of the National Security Council and various senior officials.

“Today we are facing a triangle, each of whose sides must be taken seriously,” Lapid said in a statement.

The country needed energy security, he said. It also needed to reduce global warming emissions. And it had to be wary of imposing the high costs of dealing with climate change on the public.

“Israeli technologies are going to be key players in the way that we deal with the global climate crisis,” he went on. “We need to turn these opportunities into a lever for our regional dialogue with countries in the Middle East and, of course, for our ability to positively influence the world.”

Before receiving ministry updates, Lapid said that implementation of current government decisions had to come before the approval of new ones.

Environmental groups and solar power companies have long complained that lengthy procedures and obstacles were holding back the solar energy revolution.

While Israel has promised the United Nations that 30 percent of its electricity will be produced by renewables by 2030, the current figure is just 8.5%.

The Energy Ministry wants to renew natural gas exploration in the Mediterranean Sea and continues to subsidize the use of natural gas, a fossil fuel seen as part of the transition from coal and oil to renewable energy.

A joint statement issued Wednesday by the energy and economy ministries announced a budget of NIS 50 million ($15 million) to help connect businesses and industry to natural gas.

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