COP26: Climate Conference is Bennett’s chance to become a statesman

The Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow next week will be Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s first international summit, where he will rub shoulders, figuratively and literally, thanks to COVID-19, with leaders from around the world.

The UN General Assembly is usually an opportunity to do so, but this year, because of Sukkot, when Bennett arrived in New York, most of the leaders were gone; In addition, many did videoconferencing due to the pandemic.

This has made COP26 more important and will be a test for Bennett. Will he return as a statesman, having elevated Israel to the world stage?

Bennett begins the test at a disadvantage. It cannot compete with the renown of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who helped Israel overcome its weight in events like this, even if there are some leaders who want to encourage and support the post-Bibi government.

But climate change is one of the dominant issues on the global agenda, as leaders from around the world planning to meet in Glasgow attest, and Bennett can do much to bring advantages to Israel.

People participate in a Climate March in Brussels, Belgium, ahead of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow on October 10, 2021. (Credit: REUTERS / YVES HERMAN / FILE PHOTO)

The National Security Council, which recently made climate change part of its portfolio, set four main goals for Israel: Prepare as best as possible for emergencies – wildfires, snowstorms, etc. – to leverage Israel’s assets – innovation in climate-related areas: promoting regional cooperation and reducing greenhouse gases.

These are important goals for Israel’s future at the national level, but each of them also has a diplomatic element.

Bennett will likely want to emphasize Israeli innovation that provides solutions to problems caused by climate change, whether they are alternatives to meat, desalination, desert farming, solar energy or others, and use them to build joint efforts with other countries in The conference.

The UK, the host country of the conference, is already eagerly watching Israeli technology in its “race to zero” carbon emissions, and introduces British industry to Israeli climate technology companies, through the Clean Growth Department. from its UK-Israel Technology Center in Tel. Aviv.

But Israel lags far behind many developed countries in taking action to mitigate climate change. The State Comptroller’s Office released a lengthy report this week indicating that the government has not met its emissions targets. Israel’s emissions increased by 12% since 2005, while the EU cut itss by 21% in the same period, and Israel has the 10th highest emissions rate in the OECD, catching that of much larger countries.

The allies have quietly criticized Israel for not having a comprehensive and long-term climate strategy. For example, Israel has not set a target date for zero emissions. And while Israel is phasing out coal due to its natural gas resources, and gas is cleaner than coal, it is not a renewable energy source. The UK would also like Israel to adhere to forest and ocean preservation initiatives, among other steps, embrace the use of zero-emission vehicles for public transport and more.

Beyond that, awareness of climate change among the public is very low compared to the Western world, and the government has done little to manage people’s expectations on this critical issue. The same department of the UK embassy that brought Israeli clean technology to their country also brought in sustainability experts from the UK to meet with the heads of some of Israel’s largest companies and encourage movement in the private sector towards a greener industry.

It is true that the footprint of Israel, carbon and others, is much, much smaller than that of actors like India and China who face criticism for not doing enough to mitigate their emissions.

But being a team player in the climate will go a long way in helping the countries Israel considers like-minded. In that sense, the cabinet’s decision this week to take 100 different steps to mitigate and adapt to climate change is a positive move.

An announcement of lofty goals would help Bennett present himself as a statesman when it comes to one of the biggest global problems, and sticking to those goals, which are more difficult to achieve, will benefit Israelis in the long run.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *