Who is Bennett speaking to at the COP26 conference?

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett knows Israel should dramatically raise its climate targets, but the question that remains is whether it will overturn a decade of its predecessor’s gas-focused energy policies when it takes the world stage at 1 p.m. Monday. : 00. the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, better known as COP26.

Here in Glasgow, far from the interference of the Finance Ministry officials who created and are currently enforcing the gas monopoly, as well as the secret Katza pipeline deal with the UAE, Naftali Bennett has told confidants that the goal of Israel’s renewable energy is “al hapanim, ”Embarrassingly low.

The prime minister has two cards to use if he wants to avoid unilaterally making a dramatic decision and diverting attention: The first is to tout Israel’s climate technologies, even knowing that we hardly implement any of them at home. And the second is to declare that by 2050, Israel will commit to zero emissions, as dozens of other countries have done, but will avoid making difficult decisions that need to be implemented under its supervision towards the 2030 targets, which is the true benchmark.

The prime minister is joined by a large delegation, which includes two key ministers: Karin Elharrar, minister of energy, and Tamar Zandberg, minister of environmental protection.

Their personalities and leadership styles couldn’t be more different: Zandberg is an activist, has pledged to push for an expanded climate law upon her return from the climate conference, and sought the post of environment minister. Elharrar, a lawyer who has dedicated her life to fighting discrimination, is cautious, measured, and taking her time to learn energy issues while committing to wanting to promote renewable energy responsibly.

Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg during a plenary session in the Assembly Hall of the Israeli Parliament, in Jerusalem, on October 13, 2021. (Credit: YONATAN SINDEL / FLASH90)

Bennett, as prime minister, has largely respected the leadership of his ministers and would prefer that they settle Israel’s climate policy among themselves. But this is a simplification. In the absence of a new government decision, Israel’s energy policy is actually taken by a semi-autonomous unit within the Ministry of Energy that is controlled by the Ministry of Finance. And this unit, the Public Utilities Authority, for the past 15 years has always put the brakes on Israel to make major breakthroughs in solar energy, which is the main renewable energy source that can dramatically reduce Israel’s carbon emissions.

I know from experience, having fought against this regulator and eventually developed Israel’s first medium-sized solar field, the first large-scale solar field, and the only Arab solar field, only to see that Israel has fallen short even in our modest 2020 renewable energy targets, which in 2009 National Infrastructure Minister Binyamin “Fuad” Ben-Eliezer and I passed, in a government decision that the Finance Ministry heavily torpedoed.

Last week, the state comptroller, in a poignant and unprecedented report, denounced the government and its ministries for doing practically nothing in the decade since my partners and I connected the first solar field, this one on Kibbutz Ketura. Israel could have been 100% solar powered today, with lower energy prices and cleaner air, had there been leadership a decade ago to address special interests.

When Bennett takes the podium on Monday, no one is sure yet who he’s really talking to. Is your audience primarily Democrats, the White House and the European Union, who are unhappy with Israel’s measly 30% renewable energy targets by 2030? Or is the prime minister speaking primarily to a national audience, which is divided between the narrow interests of gas companies who oppose raising Israel’s climate goals and a growing electorate that cuts across the political spectrum of Israelis, in their Most younger Israelis, who want to see this government’s climate leadership of change?

What weighs the most on the new prime minister’s mind may not be the usual considerations of the nearly 200 other world leaders who will join him on the climate podium, but rather unique considerations of national energy security:

Iran’s representative in Lebanon has 150,000 missiles aimed at critical Israeli infrastructure, including the gas platform off the coast of Zichron Ya’acov.

The Prime Minister’s National Security Council understands that a distributed power grid of solar fields with energy storage can keep the lights on and the water pumping, if Israel attacks Iran’s nuclear sites and Hezbollah retaliates.

Stay tuned.

The writer is President and CEO of GigawattGlobal.


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