Change in perception. Ariav
Photo: Alex Kolomoysky
Photo: Yariv Katz
Time to wake up. Khenin
Photo: Yariv Katz

Environmental Protection Ministry suffers severe budget cuts

Knesset Environmental Lobby briefed on new, $25 million budget; annual funding leaves little room for energy efficiency projects, alternative energy research

The Knesset Environmental Lobby held its annual budgetary meeting Tuesday and its members were surprised to find out that the Environmental Protection Ministry's budget for 2008 has been significantly cut.


The new budget allows for less funds for energy efficiency projects and even less – less than $250,000 – for the research and development of alternative energy sources.


The Environmental Protection Ministry's total budget in 2008 stands on $25.5 million – a fraction of that offered to other government branches.


The initial budget is expected to increase to $102 million, but the funds are not always put to good use: "We had $12.8 million left over from the 2005 budget, that were supposed to go towards municipal environmental projects, but that plan never materialized," said Guy Smit, deputy director of operations in the Environmental Ministry.


"Everything we do has to go through the Knesset's Economics Committee, so it gets hard to get things done," added Nir Kedmi, director of finances in the Environmental Ministry.


Yoram Ariav, Director-general of the Finance Ministry, remained optimistic: "We have to change our perception of the realities of environmental issues," he told the Lobby. "The government has to create a 'green vision' and lead with it."


Next year's budget, he told the Lobby, has very little wiggle room, but "Israel is heading towards a change in social priorities and environmental issues will be placed much higher on that scale… this change will prompt a change in government policy," he said.


One of the signs of this change, added Ariav, is the government's intent to turn environmental issues into financial opportunities, instead of liabilities.


"The global awareness of the increase in energy prices has created the opportunity to tap into a huge new market (of alternatives energy sources)… Israel can become a hotbed for environmental solutions to that affect, creating an economy boost in the process."


MK Dov Khenin (Hadash), who heads the Knesset Environmental Lobby, regretted the discussion was not relevant to 2008's budget and admitted the Lobby should have acted sooner.


"We need a fundamental change in the way we work towards the (Environmental Ministry) budget… the environmental movement has to grow up, wake up and make its reservations heard earlier in the process."  


פרסום ראשון: 12.26.07, 12:06
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