Bennett, Ministers Head to Glasgow for Climate Conference

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will depart for the UN Climate Change Conference, known as COP26, in Glasgow on Sunday, along with delegations from 200 countries.

Representing a small country whose level of emissions is unlikely to move the needle much on the global climate, the Government of Israel sees the conference primarily as an opportunity to overcome its weight when it comes to technology solutions.

These solutions include renewable energy, desert agriculture, water technology, meat alternatives, and more. Countries like the UK, the host country for COP26, have already turned to Israel in their efforts to cut carbon emissions.

Bennett will spend two days in Glasgow, at the conference aimed at strengthening the 2015 Paris Agreement, in which countries agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming to 2 ° C and ideally 1.5 degrees Celsius. ° C (2.7 ° F). To do this, emissions must be cut in half by 2030 and reach net zero by mid-century.
Israel’s delegation is unusually large at 130 members, perhaps befitting a delegation seeking to promote something, rather than one concentrating on negotiating difficult concessions. It includes Bennett, the Minister of Environmental Protection, Tamar Zandberg, and the Minister of Energy, Karin Elharrar, and their staff, as well as MPs, representatives from academia, business, industry, start-ups, youth and more.

MK Tamar Zandberg of the Meretz party at a rally in Tel Aviv on May 25, 2019 (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI / MAARIV)

Only the Ministry of Environmental Protection is sending 15 delegates, although each of them will go for a few days related to their work area and not for the full two weeks.

Non-governmental members of the delegation must pay for themselves, and the Ministry of Environmental Protection said the Israeli delegation is one of the largest because they helped register NGOs, businesses and others for the conference, which most of the countries did not.

At the same time, Israel is far behind most Western countries and the OECD in working to mitigate climate change, as a State Comptroller report on the matter noted last week.

Israel failed to meet the emissions targets it committed to at the last Climate Conference in Paris six years ago. It ranks 10th out of the 29 OECD countries with the highest emissions, which means that Israel’s rate is as high as a medium-sized country, rather than a small one.

While the EU reduced its referral rate by 21% since 2005, Israel’s increased by 12%. Since 1990, Israel’s emissions rate more than doubled, increasing 103%, while Germany’s fell more than 40%.

Bennett announced Friday that Israel has set a goal of net zero emissions by 2050, bringing it in line with the United States, Canada, France, Australia, Germany and Ireland. That plan is scheduled to go to a cabinet vote on Wednesday, when Bennett returns from Glasgow.

“With the new goal,” Bennett said, “Israel is aligning itself with developed countries that are already taking steps to achieve the zero-emissions goal and is redoubling its commitment to the Paris agreement and international agreements on the issue.

“We are responding to the global challenge, finding technological solutions and uniting to achieve this important goal,” he explained.

In addition, the government established a task force on climate change last week and approved a plan that focuses primarily on innovation.

The government plans to present 100 action items to tackle the climate crisis, four of which were passed on Sunday: a resolution on an energy rationalization program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with NIS 725 million to support. industry, commerce and local government. ; a resolution on clean and low-carbon transport; a resolution to accelerate building infrastructure with a focus on removing barriers to renewable energy; and a resolution to encourage technological innovation to combat climate change.

The National Security Council will also be involved in preparing for the climate crisis, which will be addressed as part of Israel’s strategic planning process.

It will work to improve national preparedness for emergencies arising from climate change, such as wildfires and extreme winter conditions.

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) annual “emissions gap” report, which measures the gap between anticipated emissions and those consistent with limiting temperature rise this century, as agreed in the Paris said the updated pledges only lower the forecast for 2030 emissions by an additional 7.5%, compared to previous pledges.

If it continues throughout this century, this would lead to a warming of 2.7 ° C, slightly less than the 3 ° C predicted by UNEP in its last report. A 30% reduction is needed to limit warming to 2 ° C and a 55% reduction to limit warming to 1.5 ° C.

He said current commitments to net zero could limit warming to around 2.2 ° C by the end of the century, but the 2030 promises so far do not put major emitters on a clear path towards this.

The top emitters China and India, together responsible for around a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, have yet to present strengthened NDCs and are due to do so at this conference, known as COP26.

Reuters and Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.

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