It's a Greenhouse Gas, Gas, Gas


'Jumping Jack Flash, it's a greenhouse gas' learned Israeli government, trade and NGOs this week during a two-day workshop on voluntary greenhouse gas accountancy at a pleasant Finnish-built village near Jerusalem.

The meet was appropriately timed to the announcement that 15 Israeli cities are making a plan of action to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Present at the workshop, aimed to teach Israel how create a system for greenhouse gas measuring and reporting, were Israel's Minister of Environmental Protection Gideon Ezra and a whole host of other officials from the governments of Germany and Mexico, plus some private firms and consultants from around the world. Germany's Franzjosef Schafhausen, deputy director general of Germany's Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature, Conservation and Nuclear Safety, helped developed Germany's national climate change program, he said.

He announced a memorandum signed between Israel and Germany (we think it means that Germany will help Israel make sense of its greenhouse gas mess). And said that climate change is a "threat to global peace and security. I hope that yesterday's signature [signed on Tuesday] will create a closer cooperation with the people of Israel."

Mexico's reps also painted some interesting case scenarios for Israel to follow. Later in the day, a panel led a discussion fielding questions on how Israelis can start up their own voluntary greenhouse gas emissions mechanism.

TreeHugger was at the workshop while on assignment with Carbon Catalog's Gideon Greenspan (who we've featured here). Gideon sent us there to learn more about the voluntary carbon offset business. Quite frankly, it was hard keeping our eyes open listening to all the policy-talk and acronyms and general sense of confusion that the carbon market spews out.

But the bottom line is that Israel is starting to wake up to measuring its own impact vis a vis climate change, and we were pleased to be a part of it. The conference hall (a log cabin) saw a full house of in excess of 100 people; most other guests seemed enthused and wide-eyed, and the food was great.

Attendees included Israel's only two carbon offset provider companies Elysium and EcoTraders, which we will feature in later posts. There is also one non-profit carbon offset provider in Israel — the Good Energy Initiative — but their presence wasn't felt at the meet.

Although not bound by Kyoto, Israel is feeling the pressure to account for its greenhouse gas emissions. We learned from Mexico and the US that a voluntary offset mechanism for industry and trade is not only an important way to start measuring a country's baseline, it can also be a great marketing tool for companies to increase their status among customers.

Most importantly perhaps, as trade continues to go global those companies who want to be present and competitive in the international marketplace, will need to start accounting for their greenhouse gases. Some foreign trade partners will be demanding it.

Using the wisdom of Germany who have reduced its greenhouse gas emissions with flying colors, and Mexico as a case study, Israel is set to build its own voluntary greenhouse gas emissions accountancy structure. We can't wait to be able to report more on this. Download file>PDF of the meet (in Hebrew and English).

Image credit Gustav.

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