Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that Israel is prepared to become “the climate innovation nation” during his address at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26).
By Erin Viner
“We know that history will judge our generation’s response to this threat not by how ambitious we are, but by the actions we take,” the Israeli leader said at the beginning of his remarks to those gathered in Glasgow, stressing that the country “is at the beginning of a revolution on climate change.”
Israel was represented at Glasgow COP26 by a large delegation of 120 representatives from government ministries and the Knesset, civil society, academia, the business sector, and local government.
Implementation of a $4.8 billion, 100-Step Plan that was submitted for government approval last week is already underway. This project promotes clean energy “more than at any other time in our country’s history,” said Prime Minister Bennett, as he pledged Jerusalem’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions “to net zero by 2050” while also phasing out “the use of coal by 2025.”
Even though “Israel is a small country.. less than a third of the size of Scotland,” Bennett pointed out that “our carbon footprint may be small, but our impact on climate change can be mighty.”
Underscoring that one of the Jewish State’s most valuable resources is “the energy and brainpower of our people” that “fuels our innovation and ingenuity,” Bennett appealed to Israeli entrepreneurs to become “game changers to help save the planet.
Prime Minister Bennett announced his creation of a task force called The Green Sandbox aimed at the provision of “funds to help the entrepreneurs out and ensure that their path is free of bureaucratic bumps.”
“This is where Israel can make a real difference… We’ve done it before,” Bennett said of Israeli innovative technologies to overcome climate-related obstacles. “Israel may be 60% desert, but we’ve managed to make it bloom. We may be in one of the driest places on earth, but we’ve managed to become the world’s number one country in water innovation,” he emphasized, adding, “As the country with the most start-ups per capita in the world, we must channel our efforts to saving the world. Behavioral change alone will only take us so far. We’re going to need new inventions and new technologies that have not yet been even imagined.”
“As we work to keep people safe today, we will also be working for the resilience of tomorrow, where our children will breathe cleaner air, drink cleaner water and live in a world that treats the planet better than we did,” he said.
The Premier concluded his remarks by vowing, “Israel can become the climate innovation nation and we’re ready to pave the way.”
As the Israeli Premier addressed the COP26, back home Israeli President Isaac Herzog made a special visit to the Red Sea to meet with teenage activists working with the Eilat Gulf Rangers. After reviewing underwater clean-up operations to remove waste, President Herzog told the young divers that he was deeply impressed by their devotion to the environment and hailed the importance of their activities to the preservation of the unique ecosystem in the waters off Israel’s southern city.
The President met members of the Eilat Municipal Council to discuss how they are addressing the climate crisis. Mayor Eli Lankri told the President that he had followed news of the establishment of the Israeli Climate Forum under the auspices of the Office of the President, and that the municipality is working in coordination with the Hevel Eilot Regional Council to achieve energy independence based on solar energy – with the ultimate aim of transforming Eilat into a fully green city.
Last week Herzog became the first president in the world to taste cultured meat.
While hosting Israel’s COP26 delegation, the Israeli leader was presented with innovative environmentally-friendly technologies including food products developed at GFI, the international non-profit research institute considered a world leader in the field of meat substitutes and alternative proteins.
The tastings included the first-of-its-kind, laboratory-produced cultured chicken that is created without harming fowl by the Future Meat company. Production of this kind dramatically lowers greenhouse gas emissions, minimizes by 99% the amount of arable land needed, and requires 96% less water than the traditional resource-intensive meat industry.
He also sampled the vegan Zero Egg based on plant proteins made by the leading food-tech company Innovopro, which is the world’s first company to launch products made from non-allergenic and highly nutritious chickpeas.
“Anyone who thought that the climate crisis is an issue that will only affect future generations, or that we have many years to start generating meaningful change—was making a grave mistake. Anyone who thinks that time is on our side—is reading the situation incorrectly. The climate issue is an urgent problem, which requires immediate action,” said President Herzog at the event, as he called for the creation of “as broad a coalition as possible, comprising all branches of industry, trade, academia and of course the public sector and local government, joining forces with a single goal: to urgently and immediately address the climate crisis. Not next year, not in two months’ time. But today. Here and now!”