Israel Joins U.N. Protocol on Air Pollution

YERUSHALAYIM -

Israel has joined the U.N.’s Kiev Protocol on air pollution which calls for transparency in industry as a way of helping to monitor and regulate harmful emissions, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The Kiev Protocol — also known as the Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (PRTR) — has the stated goal of “enhancing public access to information through the establishment of coherent, nationwide pollutant release and transfer registers,” and is the first such legally binding international tool to take on this goal, according to the U.N. Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

The PRTR posits transparency as an alternative to regulations enforcement. That is, by allowing broad public access to emissions data, companies will be more willing to cooperate in lowering levels of pollution in order to avoid the stigma of being branded as heavy polluters.

Israel becomes the second country in the Mideast to join, after Cyprus. In 2003, the member states of the European Union and 36 other countries adopted the protocol.

The protocol becomes legally binding to the country 90 days from the date of accession — January 14, Environmental Protection Ministry officials, said.

Israel had to enact domestic legislation that would match the standards of the protocol before joining, which was the principal reason it was delayed until now.

Israel’s internal PRTR legislation was enacted on April 1, 2012, and by June 30 the Environmental Protection Ministry had received emissions data from factories all over the country. Over the next few months, ministry staff verified the information, and by December 1 the data for approximately 700 facilities became available online.

It was the first time a comprehensive emissions transfer database was made available in Israel. Officials are hopeful that the database will provide an incentive for emission reduction. Companies can utilize it to document the results of their pollution control efforts.

The leaders of environmental advocacy group Adam Teva V’Din (Israel Union for Environmental Defense) welcomed Israel’s decision to accede to the PRTR protocol.

“Adam Teva V’Din is very proud and happy to learn that Israel has acceded to the Kiev protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Register, a law that was first drafted and promoted by Adam Teva V’Din,” Amit Bracha, the organization’s executive director, told the Post. “The new law will assure transparency in environmental information, will encourage industry to reduce emissions and will help decision-makers plan a more sustainable environment for us and for the next generations.”

As of December 31, 2003, the year the protocol was adopted, 36 countries, in addition to the European Union as a whole, had individually signed the protocol: Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro (now separate nations), Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Macedonia, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.