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State Comptroller harshly criticizes Israel’s lack of action on Climate Crisis

The State Comptroller’s damning report shows the importance of Adam Teva V’Din’s work now more than ever.

A huge red flag was raised over the Prime Minister (Netanyahu has held this position for 15 of the last 16 years) and the government for their failure to deal with the climate crisis. Israel is a climate “hot spot”, warming up faster than the world average, and as such should be leading the fellow OECD member countries in climate legislation, preparedness and adaption, rather than lagging behind. The government has made many statements and formal Government Decisions but little to no action has followed. This is why Adam Teva V’Din, Israel’s environmental watchdog, works constantly to promote comprehensive climate legislation with ambitious goals.

Attorney Amit Bracha, CEO of Adam Teva V'Din

Amit Bracha, CEO of Adam Teva V’Din explained, “Without proactive and comprehensive regulation, Israel is drifting away from the developed world and becoming a developing country.”

In October 2021 the State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman published a special report on climate crisis and related environmental issues. The comprehensive follow-up report published last week (March 2024) showed that the more than 100 audit findings had either been only partially corrected or not corrected at all. “In the last 16 years, 47 government decisions addressing the challenges of climate change were made, but Israel has shown no significant improvement in achieving its national climate objectives,” Englman wrote.

The Comptroller’s harsh criticism

There are six fundamental government failures that demonstrate, according to the Comptroller, “functional stagnation”:

  1. No leading government body with decision-making authority. A central governmental body that is committed to achieving the State’s goals is vitally needed to ensure that preparation for climate change is carried out across government ministries.
  2. No climate law. Israel has no climate legislation obliging ministries into real action. The report does note that the government began to promote a new climate law, though it lacks binding goals. (See our response to this bill from Sept 2023 here)
  3. No carbon tax. This is a financial tool to make visible the hidden social costs of carbon emission by imposing a tax on carbon emissions from producing goods and services. It aims to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by increasing the cost of using fossil fuels. This delay may harm the competitiveness of Israeli exports to Europe, for example, where the European Union will levy a carbon tax on imports from countries that do not have a carbon tax.
  4. Lack of investment in the electricity grid. Israel is falling behind its own targets for electricity generation through renewable energies and is still reliant on coal. Due to a global shortage in coal, Israel has increased is use of high-sulfur coal which has led to even greater pollution and emissions. Israel is also trailing in introducing electric vehicles.
  5. No government risk management. Israel has no Climate Adaption plan. To best prepare for climate crisis a comprehensive plan is needed yet the majority of ministries and public bodies shared that they lack an approved budget for adaptation plans for climate change.
  6. No allocated budgetary framework for climate crisis. The national budget must reflect the need for ministerial planning and action regarding climate crisis. Without budgets, ministries do not have the means to promote or begin the plans they need to create. Specific criticism was directed towards the Finance Ministry for its continued adherence to the anachronistic concept that the climate crisis is an environmental problem instead of a national economic crisis.

Attorney Bracha stated, “The war is a wake-up call to the government to stop its criminal negligence in dealing with the climate crisis. The climate crisis is Israel’s existential war, and the fact that there is no legislation, no policy, and no preparedness is leading Israel to becoming a third-world country with high morbidity, poverty and death”. He continued, “Had we been better prepared for the climate crisis, we would have been better prepared for the repercussions following October 7. This report motivates us further in our work as watchdog and in accomplishing a climate law with ambitious goals.”

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“The war is a wake-up call to the government to stop its criminal negligence in dealing with the climate crisis” Amit Bracha

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