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Environmental Legislation Faces Uphill Battle, Outgoing Ministry Adviser Warns

The outgoing legal adviser of the Environmental Protection Ministry has sounded a cautionary note on the state of environmental legislation in Israel. Despite acknowledging the nation’s lag behind other developed countries in environmental protection, she emphasized the increasing difficulty in passing crucial environmental laws through parliament.

Challenges in Legislation

Dalit Dror, speaking at the annual Law, Climate, and Environment Conference, highlighted the hurdles faced in recent years in getting bills and regulations approved. Stringent requirements, including approval from regulatory agencies and ministerial committees, along with the need for rigorous impact analysis, have complicated the legislative process. Additionally, the influence of other ministries in obstructing environmental legislation has grown, adding further barriers.

Critical Environmental Issues

Dror stressed the urgent need for new laws and regulations to address a spectrum of environmental concerns. From pollution control to waste management and response strategies for marine pollution events, she outlined the diverse areas requiring legislative attention. Despite having ready legislation to tackle marine pollution events, bureaucratic impediments have stalled progress.

Achievements Amidst Challenges

Despite the challenges, Dror highlighted significant legislative achievements during her tenure, including laws on air pollution, asbestos, and recycling, among others. However, she underscored the necessity of establishing a prosecution team within the ministry, urging for adequate funding to support this initiative.

The Climate Bill Controversy

Dror addressed the criticism surrounding the Climate Bill, acknowledging the compromises made to navigate opposition from the Finance Ministry’s Budgets Division. While not meeting all expectations, she emphasized the importance of having a legal framework to guide climate action, albeit with room for improvement through parliamentary processes.

Short-Term Focus Critique

State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman echoed concerns over Israel’s short-term focus, particularly evident in fiscal policies that prioritize immediate economic concerns over long-term environmental sustainability. He criticized the heavy subsidies for fossil fuels, highlighting the neglect of environmental costs associated with such measures.

International Comparisons and Advocacy

Englman compared Israel’s modest climate targets unfavorably with international standards, attributing this gap to a lack of governmental commitment. He emphasized the need for greater consideration of environmental risks in financial decision-making, pointing out deficiencies in the management of the country’s investment portfolio by the Bank of Israel.

Call for Government Action

Englman urged for a more proactive role from the state comptroller in pushing the government towards robust environmental policies. Drawing on his forthcoming presidency of EUROSAI, he emphasized the need for Israel to align its priorities with global trends towards sustainability and environmental responsibility.

As Israel grapples with pressing environmental challenges, the insights from outgoing ministry officials underscore the urgency for decisive legislative action and a shift towards long-term environmental stewardship. Despite the obstacles, there remains hope for progress through continued advocacy and governmental commitment to sustainability.

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Saurabh is an impassioned environmental journalist dedicated to uncovering stories that shed light on pressing ecological issues. Through his writing, he aims to inspire action and promote greater awareness of our collective responsibility to safeguard the planet for future generations.