As the gloomy Glasgow summit kicks off, is Israel missing a silver lining?

GLASGOW, UK – Six years after a major climate change meeting in Paris sparked euphoria with a deal to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius below pre-industrial levels, world leaders are reunite again because these great hopes gave way to an atmosphere of pessimism bordering on despair.

On Tuesday, the UN’s 2021 Emissions Gap Report highlighted how far we still have to go to meet the minus 2 ° C target, not to mention the preferable Paris 2015 target of 1. , 5 ° C. New national climate commitments combined with other mitigation measures put the world on track for a global temperature increase of 2.7 ° C by the end of the century, which would lead to ” catastrophic changes ”in the Earth’s climate.

“To keep global warming below 1.5 ° C this century… the world must halve annual greenhouse gas emissions over the next eight years,” the report said.

Over the next 12 days, COP 26 in Glasgow will focus on efforts to coax nations to do more to achieve their goals; agree on a transparent verification mechanism to ensure that objectives are met; and to ensure that large economies that pollute more help poorer nations that often bear the brunt of the effects of global warming.

The exercise will hardly be helped by the fact that the big emitters China and Russia will stay on the sidelines.

And while Israel sends a large delegation to Scotland, the glaring lack of senior Treasury officials in attendance would appear to defeat the meeting’s intended purpose on financial negotiations.

G20 leaders pose for a photo near the Trevi Fountain during an event for the G20 summit in Rome on October 31, 2021, laying the groundwork for the climate conference that opens the same day in Glasgow . (Jeff J Mitchell / Pool Photo via AP)

The UN-sponsored meeting cannot impose its will on the world. He can only try to persuade countries, including using money to soften the deal.

Thus, negotiations will take place on the right financial mechanism to make it economically attractive for governments, industries and financial institutions to completely change their modus operandi by disengaging from fossil fuels and investing instead in a green and sustainable future. .

Carbon taxes have become a favored model of a financial tool doing just that. Imposing an emissions tax helps reflect the cost of emitting carbon dioxide into the air – from health problems caused by pollution to property damage from flooding – and ensures that polluters pay rather than society as a whole.

Israel seems closer than ever to passing a carbon tax system, including it in the Economic Arrangements Bill to be passed alongside the state budget that goes through the Knesset.

Air pollution around unrecognized Bedouin villages near Ramat Hovav in the Negev Desert, southern Israel, December 28, 2017 (Yaniv Nadav / FLASH90)

For Israeli companies exporting to Europe, paying a carbon tax would seem inevitable anyway. From 2023, the European Union will begin the gradual introduction of a carbon tax on goods coming from outside the bloc and not already subject to a carbon tax, which means that they should anyway pay the tax.

Another tool that will be discussed in Glasgow is the creation of an international carbon credits market. Within the framework of emission trading systems, countries distribute permits to companies allowing them to pollute a certain quantity of CO₂. Companies that pollute more than their permits can buy credits from those that pollute less at a price determined by supply and demand without affecting an overall national emissions cap.

The European Union Emissions Trading System established the world’s first major carbon market and remains the largest. A global market was sought from Paris, but remained elusive. In Glasgow, nations will try again to negotiate a broad agreement on such a system.

Yet despite the emphasis on the business side of limiting global warming, the 120-strong Israeli delegation to Glasgow, led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Minister of Environmental Protection Tamar Zandberg and the Energy Minister Karin Elharrar, will not include a single representative of the Ministry of Finance. .

Part of it is the timing. The meeting kicks off just two weeks before the deadline for passing a budget – Israel’s first in years – and many in the ministry are focused on that goal. An official from the budgets division was due to travel to Glasgow, but remained behind to help steer the spending plan through the Knesset. Another can be sent towards the end of the meeting.

No financial regulator will be present either. The sole head of the public sector in the financial world will be Lior Gallo, a research economist at the Bank of Israel, who has worked closely with the Ministry of Environmental Protection. A business delegation will also make the trip to Scotland, led by Nitzan Moshe of Israel Chemicals Ltd.

Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg speaks at a conference of local authority heads in Ramat Negev, southern Israel, July 22, 2021. (Flash90)

The Ministry of Environmental Protection wants the country’s banks, financial organizations and insurance companies to integrate climate risks into their investment decisions. She closely followed developments in Europe and in particular in the United Kingdom, where banks will be forced to reveal their exposure to the climate crisis.

A scathing state comptroller report on previous government’s failures on climate change released last month credited the Bank of Israel with being one of the few Israeli institutions to have started taking the climate crisis seriously over the past year. The banking supervisor would work on new regulations related to climate risks.

Zandberg and his team hope that the talks and agreement in Glasgow on financial mechanisms will help the Israeli trade delegation to the conference, and the finance ministry back to Israel, better understand that the world is changing course.

On Monday and Tuesday, while Bennett meets with other leaders and delivers a speech at the conference, presumably on issues unrelated to climate change, Zandberg will hold meetings with White House climate advisers Jonathan Pershing and Sue Biniaz, as well than with Cypriot agriculture and Environment Minister Costas Kadis.

She will join Bennett in a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, though it is unclear why she is attending. Morrison, a proponent of coal development, was initially unwilling to travel to Glasgow and his recent announcement that Australia will aim for net zero carbon emissions has been met with skepticism.

Energy Minister Karin Elharrar during a meeting of the Knesset Arrangements Committee on June 9, 2021 (Olivier Fitoussi / Flash90)

Elharrar is set to speak at an International Energy Agency event, which Israel is currently joining. It will also host an event for Israeli green tech companies.

On Thursday, State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman, 1st Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of the European Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (EUROSAI), will be in Glasgow for a special roundtable he initiated on the role national control bodies in leading policy change on climate issues and monitoring their implementation.


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