The EU and Israel should promote the Green Deal for climate together: opinion

The evidence is clear. Climate change is uncomfortably close to all of our daily realities, no matter where we live.

Scientists around the world once again concluded that immediate action is needed. Climate change is already causing the weather disasters we saw this summer, putting the survival of many species at risk and soon making certain parts of the Earth uninhabitable for humans.

The Middle East is one of the regions most affected by climate change, facing water scarcity, food insecurity and the consequent socio-economic disturbances. Experts warn of more frequent and prolonged droughts; drier soil, which leads to greater dust storms; more intense gusts of rain; and more frequent heat waves that reach unbearable temperatures.

However, the news is not entirely discouraging: science also tells us that a carbon-free society is possible, a society of green jobs and growth that can limit warming to 1.5 ° C. The European Union has already demonstrated that it is feasible to unlink growth from CO2 emissions. Since 1990, the EU’s GDP has grown by more than 60%, while net greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by a quarter.

In July, the EU published a legislative package to implement the European Green Deal and achieve a net reduction of 55% in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, on the road to climate neutrality by 2050. But the EU cannot cope alone; international cooperation is necessary to have a global impact.

EU Environment and Oceans Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius delivers a speech during the joint press conference on European Green Deal strategies for biodiversity and farm-to-table strategies with EU Health Commissioner and the Vice President of the European Commission, at the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium (credit: JOHN THYS / POOL VIA REUTERS)

Together with nearly 30 European and Israeli diplomats, officials and experts, we recently discussed cooperation on climate change at the annual Europe-Israel Strategic Dialogue.

The event, co-hosted by the EU Delegation to Israel and the non-governmental organization ELNET, made it clear that this challenge unites Europe and Israel like no other.

Over the past decade, Israel earned the title of Start-up Nation, excelling in innovation aimed at solving global challenges. As a true innovation powerhouse, Israel is home to more than 1,200 climate innovation companies and is a leader in agriculture and water management, reforestation, smart agriculture, solar energy, and alternative protein production. Israel loses only 3% of its water due to leaks in urban water systems and has secured its supply in a region that is rapidly drying up, thanks to its advanced desalination and wastewater reuse technology.

By working with Israeli scientists and startups to tackle climate change, Europe will benefit from this innovation ecosystem, jointly developing revolutionary solutions in the field.

In fact, many innovative ideas put forward by Israeli researchers were brought to life thanks to the EU’s Horizon 2020, the world’s largest research and innovation funding program, from which Israel benefits as one of the non-EU countries. more active and more experienced. partners.

Europe’s global leadership on climate change through the Green Deal is a new opportunity for closer cooperation with Israel’s burgeoning green technology sector, for the benefit and stability of the entire region. Negotiations on Israel’s participation in the EU’s new € 96 billion Horizon Europe program (successor to Horizon 2020) have recently concluded positively, with an agreement to be signed by the end of the year.

The EU Green Deal and Israel’s drive for innovation make the two sides natural partners in efforts to transform into modern, resource efficient and competitive economies.

As a growing number of Middle Eastern countries normalize their relations with Israel, the EU is in a unique position to help foster new cross-border partnerships in the region, necessary to address the climate challenge.

Closer collaboration with Europe can also help Israel improve its climate governance and strengthen green finance and the renewable sector. We must see it for what it really is: a unique opportunity to jointly shape a common future based on shared environmental values ​​between the EU and Israel, the EU Green Deal and Israel’s spirit of innovation.

Now we need a systemic and exponential shift away from fossil fuels. It is good for our health, our homes, our crops, our water, our jobs, and our economies.

This will require the support of world leaders and pressure from citizens. Every action counts: how we vote, what we eat, how we travel. How damaging climate change will be is in our hands.

Dimiter Tzantchev is the European Union’s designated ambassador to Israel, and Ambassador Gideon Behar is Israel’s special envoy for climate change and sustainability at the Foreign Ministry.

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