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Israel passes new climate change action plan

What happened: Ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow next week the Israeli government has approved a new plan to tackle climate change.

  • The plan includes “100 action items” which encourage hi-tech innovation to develop technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, advance environmentally friendly infrastructure projects, encourage recycling and energy saving and prepare for climate change.
  • Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting Energy Minister Karin Alharrar (Yesh Atid) said: “The time has come for us to mobilise Israeli creativity and innovation for the State of Israel’s fight against the climate crisis.”
  • Minister of Environmental Protection Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) said “Israel is home to advanced start-ups and leading research centres, and Israeli climate innovation is already a world leader in some areas. This is an opportunity for us, not only to ignite the Israeli innovation and technology economy, but also to play a key role in climate crisis solutions in a way that transcends our relative share, both at the regional level and at the global level.”
  • Yesterday Prime Minister Bennett visited green energy company Phinergy, which produces “metal-air batteries” that allow electric vehicles to expand their range by three times without the need to recharge.
  • On Monday President Isaac Herzog hosted the Israeli delegation due to visit Glasgow. He was presented with a range of innovative environmental technologies, including technology to harvest organic waste as a renewable energy source and food products such as meat substitutes and alternative proteins.
  • Growing meat unconventionally involves dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, minimises by 99 per cent the amount of arable land needed, and requires 96 per cent less water than the traditional resource-intensive meat industry.
  • President Herzog was also presented a “carbon footprint” calculator, the first of its kind in Israel, which calculates the quantity of greenhouse gases that each person emits.
  • Watergen presented President Isaac Herzog its revolutionary technology to manufacture water from humidity in the air — a green solution minimising the transportation and use of plastic water containers.

Context: Prime Minister Bennett has identified tackling climate change as a new national security interest.

  • Bennett is keen to position Israel at the forefront of the global effort on this issue.
  • The cabinet passed four resolutions:
    • To reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
    • To promote low-carbon transportation, including the electrification of public transportation.
    • To accelerate building infrastructure while using renewable energy.
    • To encourage technological innovation to fight climate change.
  • The cabinet also made several recommendations:
    • To encouraging academic and industrial research.
    • To expand financing solutions and risk management systems.
    • To pool resources and coordinate inter-governmental activity to promote the assimilation of climate technologies.
  • Israel’s new policy will look to:
    • Maximise Israel’s contribution to the global community, especially in the field of climate innovation.
    • Advance regional cooperation on climate change, both with neighbouring countries Egypt and Jordan but also with Greece, Cyprus, UAE, Bahrain and Morocco.
    • Prepare for situations of emergency like wildfires and extreme winter conditions (alongside their neighbours).
    • Instruct the security establishment to prepare for the impacts of the climate crisis. The IDF will need to evaluate changes in terms of technology, equipment and human resources.
  • In parallel, State Comptroller Matanyahu Engelman published a report yesterday severely criticising successive Israel governments for failing to do enough against climate change.
  • According to the report, Israel is 19th out of the 29 developed countries in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

Looking ahead: Next week Prime Minister Bennett will travel to Glasgow along with the ministers for Environment and Energy.  hey will be accompanied by a large delegation of 120 representatives, including government officials, civil society, academia, the business sector, and local government.

  • According to State Comptroller Engelman, the target of achieving 30 per cent renewable energy by 2030 was very low by global comparative standards. He criticised the governments’ failure to set a more ambitious goal for 2050, as other countries have done. The report advised the government to engage in “renewed thinking about the 2030 goals, maximising the renewable energy potential by 2050 and setting a goal accordingly”.

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