Naftali Bennett, Environment Minister Zandberg and others headed to Glasgow

October 25, 2021 by Gil Tanenbaum - TPS
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Ahead of the UN Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, the cabinet of Israel today approved a new plan to encourage climate innovation, to develop technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to prepare for the future problems caused by climate change.

Israel Cabinet Meeting Sunday October 24               Photo by Haim Zac GPO

Israel has always been known for its environmental innovations. More than a century ago, the European pioneers who settled what was then a wasteland drained swamps and planted farms in the desert. The early Israelis pioneered new agricultural and irrigation techniques. In its first decades, Israel sent experts to nations throughout Africa to help the many newly independent nations there and teach them what Israel had learned about creating a new agricultural base from nothing with few natural resources.

Israel has also been at the forefront of technological innovations and alternative energies. Its rooftops are covered with solar-powered water heaters and its bathrooms and kitchens have always utilized water-saving systems.

Today Israel is known as Startup Nation for all of its success in the world of high tech. Now it is merging that high tech know-how with its need for alternative sources of energy, water conservation and desalination projects into new environmental efforts. Being in a desert, Israel has always needed to deal with water shortages and climate change is causing the world to suffer from more drought.

So Israel clearly has a great deal to offer the UN.

The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference will be held from Sunday, October 31, to Friday, November 12. The COP26 summit will bring parties together with the intention to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The organizers of this summit boast that it is poised to be one of the most consequential climate events since the negotiation of the Paris Agreement in 2015.” In order to build a more sustainable, resilient and zero-carbon future, we need a whole economic transformation in which non-state actors will play an increasingly vital role,” they say.

Some of the conference’s goals are to lay the foundations for capital markets to align with the Paris Agreement goals to transition to a “net-zero, resilient economy, in which the environmental risks to both people and planet are embedded,” track the progress taken by governments on environmental action and set goals to be met by the year 2030.

And Israel is taking measures to prepare for the problems to come.

The Cabinet passed Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s, Energy Minister Karine Elharrar’s and Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg’s plan to cope with climate change. The plan encourages technological innovation in the fight against the climate crisis as well as the acceleration of infrastructure projects, as part of preparations for the climate crisis and removing impediments in the field of waste, recycling and energy.

In addition, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett declared the tackling of climate change as a new national security interest of Israel and passed a number of practical resolutions on the matter, as part of the “100 Action Items” plan.

In August, The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report written by 234 different scientists that declared that not only is climate change very much real, but it is also caused by human activities.

Since then, the government of Israel has taken steps to move forward with a plan to reduce carbon emissions in the country and to promote new green technologies and alternative green sources of energy. Its Minister of Environmental Protection Tamar Zandberg has been at the forefront of these efforts.

In the framework of the plan, task forces will be established, chaired by the Prime Minister’s Office Director General, to advance the establishment and implementation of extensive projects of national importance in the field of infrastructures, in order to meet the targets for moving to a low-carbon economy for 2030 and 2050.

One task force will focus on accelerating the development of new technologies for the environment. With the participation of the Finance Ministry Accountant General and the Attorney General, the team will work to lift regulatory impediments to the research, development, application and assimilation of technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and preparations for climate change in public infrastructures and public agencies.

At the end of its first year, the team will issue the results of its work and make recommendations for actions to be taken by public bodies to advance the assimilation of technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and preparations for climate change.

Another task force will discuss projects to assist in preparing for natural disasters and extreme events such as fires and floods and will work to formulate solutions and policy steps to remove impediments to their implementation.

The Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office will act to create a support system to encourage investment in research and development of technologies for the fight against climate change, including cooperation by means of binational research and development funds and the pooling of budgetary resources, in coordination with the various ministries.

He will also brief the assessment forum chaired by the Energy Minister on progress in removing impediments in the energy field, and the Environmental Protection Minister on progress in removing impediments in the field of waste and recycling. Once every three months, the task force will update the list of projects and the topics it will discuss, according to the agenda that will be determined.

The new environmental infrastructures being promoted and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions will also be added to the multi-year infrastructures development plan published annually by the Prime Minister’s Office. This, the government said, is in order to strengthen coordination and synchronization regarding infrastructure projects as well as the directing of government attention to areas in which there is insufficient implementation or planning for projects.

The ministers of Energy; Environmental Protection; and Innovation, Science and Technology, in cooperation with the Economy and Industry Minister, and the Finance Ministry Budget Director and Accountant General, will submit to the Cabinet recommendations on climate technology innovation.

The recommendations will refer to the following subjects: Encouraging academic and industrial research while defining areas of national importance; expanding financing solutions and risk management systems, including by means of cooperating with binational funds; and pooling activity by relevant ministries in order to promote the assimilation of climate technologies.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett commented on the initiative at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting, held today, Sunday. He told the cabinet that next week he will travel to the UN climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, together with Energy Minister Karine Elharrar and Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg. “In this context, today we are submitting here, at the Cabinet table, several important decisions regarding climate and the global environmental crisis,” said Bennett.

“The climate crisis is one of the major issues on the world agenda, and rightly so. It concerns the lives of all of us, and also the lives of our children and grandchildren,” he added. “It is in our being. We are obligated to deal with it in Israel, at all levels and in all ministries. Today, the government will approve several decisions, including promoting clean and low-carbon transportation, energy efficiency, reducing emissions, encouraging technological innovation and accelerating infrastructure.”

Energy Minister Karine Elharrar commented, “The time has come for us to mobilize Israeli creativity and innovation for the State of Israel’s fight against the climate crisis. For many years, Israeli start-ups have been at the global forefront in taking action in various areas. This decision is intended to remove barriers, promote pioneering projects and facilitate green energy entrepreneurs.”

“Promoting the transition to renewable energy is a daily struggle to removing the technological and bureaucratic barriers that we face in the electric grid and on the ground among dozens of government ministries, and various public and private agencies” she added. “Adoption of the issue by the Prime Minister, and the establishment of a task force headed by the Director General of his office, will surely help promote the important transition to a reliable and green energy economy, which will allow the State of Israel to side with the developed countries in the world.”

Minister of Environmental Protection Tamar Zandberg explained to the cabinet that Israel is home to advanced start-ups and leading research centers, 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,” she said.

“The government’s decision to accelerate infrastructure translates into policy what scientists have been telling us for a long time: Rapid emissions reduction is critical to preventing the devastating effects of climate change,” added Zanberg. “After too many years of foot-dragging, the Israeli government is showing real commitment. The government is preparing for climate change. The task force set up will ensure that impediments to projects will be specially addressed for the accelerated introduction of renewable energies, especially in built-up areas, while preserving open spaces, as well as waste treatment facilities according to the Ministry of Environmental policy.”

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