Environmental Health in Israel | 2014

emissions between 2008 and 2012. However, pursuant to a government decision, a national plan for energy efficiency entered into effect in 2010. The plan set an efficiency target of 20% for 2020 (reduction of energy costs and more efficient use of energy). The Clean Air Law, which entered into effect in 2011, along with "green" taxation for vehicles (which provides higher tax benefits for vehicles that pollute less) are also expected to contribute to a reduction not only in air pollution, but to greenhouse gas emissions as well. Preparation and Adaptation for Climate Change In June 2009, a committee of directors-general was formed that was authorized to formulate recommendations for a national action plan to prepare and adapt for climate change. One of the components of the plan was to draft guidelines for relevant government ministries so as to equip them with tools required for minimizing damage resulting from changing climatic conditions. The Israeli Climate Change Information Center (ICCIC) was established in March 2011 by the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MoEP) at the University of Haifa. The ICCIC published three reports in 2012–2013. The Israel Defense Force (IDF) Home Front Command is responsible for taking care of the general population in the event of natural disasters, including extreme climate events (for example earthquakes and flooding). The Emergency Department at the Ministry of Health (MoH) provides organizational and logistical infrastructure related to the healthcare system during emergency situations, including natural disasters. Today, there is no entity in Israel responsible for climate events that are not defined as extreme events. There is, for example, no specific legislation focusing on preparation for climate change associated with global warming. Data on Climate Change in Israel and the Health Effects of Climate Change Since the 1960s, higher temperatures have been recorded in the Middle East, with an increase in the frequency, intensity, and duration of heat waves. At the same time, there has been a decline in the general amount of rainfall, as well as a change in the pattern of rain distribution during the rainy season. In recent decades there has been a steep rise in the number and scope of forest fires in the Middle East. During extreme climate events in January and December 2013 new records were set for rainfall and water flow. The data indicate that gradual and extreme climate events are already occurring in Israel. While the connection between acute climate events and public health is clear, the link between gradual change in climatic conditions and human health is more difficult to prove. Since the climate in Israel is relatively susceptible to severe heat waves, the effects of heat waves on mortality in Israel need to be examined. A study published in 2014, based on data collected between 2000 and 2005 reported an increase of about 3.7% in mortality in Tel Aviv from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases for every increase of one unit in the thermal discomfort index (a combination of temperature and relative humidity) above the defined threshold value. Environmental Health in Israel 2014  Chapter 11 - 74 -

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