Second experts’ workshop in the event series on the Transition to a Low Carbon Economy – Perspectives from Germany and Israel.
On December 7th, 2020, the Israel Public Policy Institute (IPPI) together with the Heinrich Böll Foundation Israel organized an international experts’ workshop dedicated to the subject of Climate Legislation. Policy communities in both Israel and Germany recognize the potential of climate legislation to promote efforts to meet the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement by 2050. Germany adopted a climate law with a long-term focus in 2019, while in Israel, policymakers and civil society currently explore the potential of climate legislation as part of the national effort to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy.
Against this backdrop, the workshop brought together a range of environmental policy experts from both countries to review global trends and learn from the experience of other countries with the aim of identifying potential best practices and key lessons that can inform and support the transition to a low-carbon economy.
The event was kicked off by the Israeli Minister for Environmental Protection, Gila Gamliel, who identified the pandemic not only as a challenging time but also as an exceptional opportunity to reorganize unsustainable economic practices and embed climate targets through national long-term climate legislation. The Minister emphasized that “climate change is not only a challenge to the environment, but to all aspects of society, including our economic, health, social and national security systems”. In her opening statement, she stressed that dealing with climate change calls for long-term planning and commitments, which should be pursued in collaboration between nations as well as within the different sectors of society, i.e. government, the private sector and civil society.
Part 1: Legislation in OECD countries
The first part of the program sought to provide a general overview of best practices for climate laws among OECD countries within the EU.
Matthias Duwe, Head of Climate at the Ecologic Institute in Berlin, presented his co-authored IPPI policy paper, “Professionalizing Climate Policy”, providing a comprehensive comparative overview of national climate laws across European OECD member states. According to Duwe, the majority of the OECD member states have already adopted a climate law, and most of the ones, which haven’t passed such legislation yet, are in the process of doing so. During his presentation, Duwe broke down the paper’s analysis of the 10 selected case studies among OECD countries (EU Member States) and their motivation to put forward national framework climate laws, placing a particular emphasis on their varying characteristics and the benefits of the long-term design. Although there is not one ideal law, according to Duwe, nearly all the examined legislations aim for concrete GHG emission reductions.
In his presentation Duwe presented five central questions that governments must review/address when aiming for sustainable, long-lasting climate legislation: What do we want to achieve? How do we get there? Are we making progress? Who does what? Whom to involve? Also, he underlined the few necessary components of successful laws; the need for a strong scientific advisory group in the role of a Watchdog to ensure transparency, increased public participation and engagement of the civil society, and a need for general political support. Given the above points, he mentioned that Germany stands out as an example for missing its 2019 target, and yet he argues that this allowed them to identify the weak points and set stricter measurements.
Part 2: Towards Climate Legislation in Israel
The following section sought to provide an overview of the Israeli government-led initiative to promote climate legislation in the country.
Dr. Gil Proaktor, Head of Climate Change and Energy Policy at the Ministry of Environmental Protection in Israel presented the Ministry’s tentative climate policy strategy. To keep up with the global trend, he emphasized, “Israel cannot afford to stay behind on climate legislation”. He then depicted the various factors necessary for building a successful climate law, which in the view of the MoEP involves mitigation, adaptation, the establishment of a clear vision and strategy, and the employment of interim and long-term targets for smoother and affordable transition. Furthermore, he emphasized the need for the active participation of different stakeholders such as industry, local authorities, and CSOs, stressing that the responsibility to create a working climate law cannot be left to the government alone to promote. Finally, Dr. Proaktor stressed the crucial need for transparency and public engagement, and emphasized that without it, there is a risk to lose the public’s confidence in the process and lose the momentum to push forward the necessary policies.
Prof. Ofira Ayalon from the Samuel Neaman Institute for National Policy Research, and Dr. Ori Sharon from Bar-Ilan University presented their research as part of a joint initiative which analyzed four specific climate laws that are most relevant for Israel, out of a total of 56 climate framework laws, globally. Their findings from the case studies of the UK, South-Korea, the Netherlands and California, provided a detailed list of the fundamental elements that the Israeli law must include if it is to be effective, namely, long-term targets, interim goals, adaptation, ensuring compliance with targets, an independent advisory committee, and transparency, reporting and control.
Part 3: The Role of Civil Society
The final panel discussion set out to explore the role of civil society as part of the climate legislation process. Although the climate crisis is anything but new, it has started to garner increased attention among the Israeli public and media only in the past years. With thousands of demonstrators taking to the streets while calling for politicians’ opens a window for civil society to fight for more space in the decision-making process.
Dr. Christiane Averbeck, Executive Director of Klima-Allianz Deutschland (Climate Alliance), a network of over 120 CSOs dedicated to working on various issues that relate to climate change, emphasized the hardships that CSOs endure to make their voice heard. She described the process that CSOs in Germany went through as they fought for years to increase awareness about the necessity for significant climate targets and that the actions of Greta Thunberg and Fridays for Future have helped draw attention and national support, allowing the local and national NGOs to rally together behind the cause. In the long-term this increased their strength and helped to unify non-governmental actors working in different spaces related to climate change.
Tammy Ganot, Representative of the Israeli NGO Adam Teva V’Din, introduced three timeframes along which CSOs’ role can be implemented in Israel. The three stages include before making the law, while making the law and after there is a law. Ganot believes that this division helps to define more clearly the unique needs, role and added value of civil society throughout the law-making process.
The panel was followed by a series of questions both from the moderator and participants. One of the first questions inquired, whether NGOs should be part of the independent oversight body. According to Averbeck, involving civil society in the advisory board would be a great step toward representing the voice of the public. Dr. David Dunetz from the Heschel Center for Sustainability emphasized the need for a ‘citizens assembly’ to increase public participation, a trend which celebrates growing popularity in various countries, but which is still fairly undeveloped in Germany and Israel. In Israel, Ganot noted that some ministries have begun to include public participation in their decision-making processes, but that this practice has not taken root yet. On that same note, she commented that a growing number of people consider environmental policy when deciding who to vote for. This does not affect necessarily overall political affiliations but can deeply influence political parties positions on the climate issue. Ganot lastly gave credit to the EU Youth Climate Movement, which she depicted as very inspirational, and mature and which challenges decision-makers, stakeholders to act responsibly. She argued that the Youth Climate Movement is different from other youth movements as it is calling for change from within the system, and not from the outside.
With the proposition of a new climate framework law in the near future, the workshop took place in an exciting moment with cross-sectoral stakeholders present at the table in an international setting. The different voices provided the audience with unique insights into potential pathways on how to promote climate legislation in Israel and beyond.
Speakers of the event:
- Oz Aruch, Program Director, Heinrich Böll Foundation Tel Aviv
- Prof. Ofira Ayalon, Samuel Neaman Institute for National Policy Research
- Dr. Christiane Averbeck, Executive Director of Klima-Allianz Deutschland
- Matthias Duwe, Head of Climate at the Ecologic Institute in Berlin
- Tammy Ganot, Adam Teva V’Din
- Polina Garaev, Programs Manager, Israel Public Policy Institute (IPPI)
- Dr. Gil Proaktor, Head of Climate Change Policy at the Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection
- Dr. Ori Sharon, Bar-Ilan University
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