Knesset passes controversial climate bill through first reading

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter

Environmental Protection Minister Idit Silman speaks during an Interior and Environmental Protection Committee at the Knesset on March 20, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Environmental Protection Minister Idit Silman speaks during an Interior and Environmental Protection Committee at the Knesset on March 20, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Knesset passes the first reading of a controversial climate bill by 49 votes to 32.

Environmental Protection Minister Idit Silman says the proposed law will “protect the public, its health and welfare, and also protect future generations.”

She adds that the bill “sets targets and programs for the reduction of global-warming gas emissions and for preparing the economy for the effects of climate (change).”

But environmental groups and opposition MKs decry the bill as next to useless and say it’s a capitulation to the Finance Ministry, which has fought against anchoring any climate targets in law.

Starting in 2030, the annual amount of emissions will be no more than 70% of those recorded in 2015, it says.

The bill sets the goal of net zero emissions by 2050. (Net zero is achieved when actual emissions are offset by the amount of gases removed from the atmosphere).

It orders the preparation of national plans for emissions reduction and for dealing with the effects of climate change. Ministries will also be expected to create climate crisis preparation plans on different aspects of the economy.

The current draft of the bill specifies that the government “may change by decree the goals and the years set as well as the base year” pertaining to the climate targets.

The government will be able to exempt ministries and corporations from the obligation to prepare plans for dealing with climate change.

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