How Israel can reach net zero by 2030 – commentary

GLASGOW – Fresh off his budget victory in the Knesset, will Prime Minister Naftali Bennett roll up his sleeves now on climate change and delve into the details he outlined last week at the UN Climate Conference? He promised it to Israeli teenagers Alma Pomagrin, 15, and Lia Lev, 16, activists from the Strike4Climate group who traveled to Glasgow last week to deliver a letter from Israel’s teenagers to the prime minister on the day he spoke at the COP26.

Interestingly echoing his predecessor’s speech six years earlier at the Paris Climate Conference, Bennett appeared before 120 heads of state last week in Glasgow and extolled the virtues of Israeli innovation. In doing so, he avoided taking a position on any of the key climate issues facing Israel, aside from the welcome but empty promise that Israel will have zero carbon emissions by 2050.

But Bennett seemed genuinely moved by what he heard and saw here in Glasgow, and Alma, Lia and their friends will soon be in for pleasant surprises.

Bennett’s main achievement in Glasgow was getting Bill Gates excited about the future of Israeli climate innovation. The prime minister knows very well that in order for Israel and Israeli technology to be a showcase for the world, we have to put our burning house in order quickly.

Israeli ministers and the CEOs of the relevant ministries (Energy, Environment, Interior, Finance, Transport and more) complain about how difficult it would be for Israel to join the ambitious goals of the international community on renewable energy.

United States President Joe Biden walks to deliver a speech during the ‘Action on Forests and Land Use’ event at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland , Great Britain, November 2, 2021 (Credit: REUTERS)

On the other hand, if the US and the EU, much larger and more complicated political entities, have declared climate emergencies, passed ambitious climate laws, made complicated and coordinated government decisions, they stood up to their gas and oil lobbies. oil and have prioritized green growth, then certainly little Israel can do that too.

There are six things Bennett can do, working together with his relevant ministers.

  1. Declare a climate emergency, as dozens of other Western countries have done. In doing so, key government bodies such as the Public Utilities Authority, the electricity regulator that is the main obstacle to a solar Israel, must take the climate into account in all their decisions and accelerate the deployment of renewable, centralized and scattered. for weather and national security reasons.
  2. Create an open market. Solar quotas are one of the last vestiges of Israel’s socialist roots, stifling market forces that would accelerate investment, scale and innovation and create thousands of green jobs. As Prince Charles said here in Glasgow, the private sector can move much faster than governments. Today in Israel, there is no framework for an open market for green energy companies to develop projects and sell to willing customers, such as from industry, the military, or municipalities. Prices would drop rapidly, solar fields with storage would rise rapidly, and the energy market would be dynamic, representing an economic and climate advantage. Five thousand megawatts would be created between now and 2030, representing $ 5 billion in private sector investment.
  3. Dual-use agrovoltaics. 100% of Israel’s daytime energy needs would have been met today by solar energy, as we have already done in Eilat and Arava, if each of the 900 kibbutzim, moshavim and Arab villages were allowed to produce 25 megawatts in a small portion of their agricultural crops. Earth. To avoid Israel’s nightmarish rezoning regulations and to maintain our food security, an immediate dual-use permit can be granted for these communities to place solar energy on a portion of their agricultural land, just like greenhouses. This would attract around $ 20 billion. in investments and create thousands of green jobs, most of them on the periphery.
  4. It frees up land for renewable energy, especially in the Golan and the Negev. While a five-year moratorium on new wind projects in order to study the impact of those that are going up now would be a welcome decision, there are ways to free up land in a way that does not interfere with ecological corridors, especially if we convert only 1% from closed military zones to renewable zones. In those fields, all the citizens of Israel could be part of the solar revolution through virtual net metering or community solar gardens, which means that even if one is renting or does not have roof space for solar energy, their meter can be virtually linked to 10-20 panels in other parts of the country and lower electric bills and carbon footprint.
  5. Climate Justice for Arab-Israelis. The increasing political sophistication of the Arab-Israeli community creates an opportunity for Israel to end discrimination in the energy sector while promoting economic and social development and achieving ambitious climate goals. Ra’am Party Chairman Mansour Abbas, fulfilling the legacy of his recently deceased friend and MK Saeed Alharomi, believes that a special quota for solar energy is needed for Arab-Israelis, with affirmative action on interconnection to the grid. national, rezoning and tax benefits. . This would generate $ 5 billion. in private sector investments in the Arab-Israeli community and create thousands of jobs.
  6. Free up shared rooftops. While hot water panels are ubiquitous in Israel, it has only been worth it for private roof owners to install solar panels for electricity, as those revenues are exempt from VAT tax. Since 80% of Israelis live in shared buildings, most Israelis do not have solar power, which means that the benefit has gone to the rich. Applying the same VAT exemption to shared meters on shared rooftops, where outside investors can invest in generation meters, would quickly produce 5,000 MW on Israeli rooftops, also improving our national energy security in the event of grid failure. by Hezbollah rockets, an earthquake. or Iranian cyberattack.

Israeli technological innovation is definitely part of the global solution to the climate crisis, but first Bennett needs to lead through political and economic innovation to put Israel on the right side of history and spur unprecedented investment from the private sector in our energy sector.

Implementing the world’s best practices, on display in Glasgow, would ultimately turn Israel into a renewable light for the nations.

The writer is Israel’s solar pioneer and @Kaptainsunshine can be followed.

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