Yosef Abramowitz poses with one of the Green Globes which were scattered around the capital last year..
(photo credit: COURTESY ENERGIYA GLOBAL)
At the Knesset’s annual Environment Day held Tuesday, there were many winners but the only one “loser” – the Energy, Infrastructure and Natural Resources Ministry.
As part of the day’s festivities, several “Green Globe” awards were presented by Life and Environment – The Israeli Union of Environmental NGOs.
Chosen by a team of judges, almost all the awards celebrated companies and individuals doing positive things for the environment.
But there was one negative award – the Black Globe.
This year’s Black Globe booby prize was given to the Energy, Infrastructure and Natural Resources Ministry for its “continual failure in managing the energy sector.” In particular, Life and Environment criticized the Ministry’s ongoing denial of the “health and environmenertal problems” that stem from burning coal to generate electricity, and for “clinging to an outdated approach.”
In stark contrast, this year’s Energy Award was given to Yosef Abramowitz for his work in advancing solar energy in Israel and abroad. The judges lauded Abramowitz – the CEO of Jerusalem-based Energiya Global – as “a kind of modern prophet who spreads the solar gospel.”
Among Abramowitz’s recent achievements were establishing a solar field in Rwanda inaugurated last year, and building a 22.5 MW solar field in Georgia, the first in the American state.
In accepting his award Tuesday, Abramowitz urged on the Finance Ministry and Tax Authority to increase solar power quotas to 10,000 megawatts. “End the deliberate bureaucratic obstacles for ordinary citizens to put solar panels on their roofs,” he pleaded.
Abramowitz singled out Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who is also filling in as interim Environmental Protection Minister, to “break the monopolies of the Israel Electric Company and the tycoons.”
Abramowitz then threw down the gauntlet: If all solar power quotas were lifted, he would commit to investing $10 b. in Israel’s solar energy field over the next five years.
“More than Noble Energy and Delek combined… without greenhouse gas emissions or air pollution,” he said.
Abramowitz’s vision is for sun-blessed Israel to rely 100 percent on solar energy during daytime hours, and use conventional energy at night.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Abramowitz said that the $10b. will be easy to “deploy in local and international investments,” but that is only if “the Finance and Energy Ministries will provide the market the signal [for 100 percent solar power in the daytime] with 25-year Power Purchase Agreements.”
Also honored at the ceremony was The Gas Campaign Staff group, which received an award for “Environmental Achievement” for “protecting the public’s right for natural gas to be a national resource.”
The “Environmental Activism” award was jointly presented to two initiatives. The first included efforts to protect open space in Jerusalem and its surroundings from construction, specifically the Mitzpe Neftoah area adjoining Ramot. The second part of the award was given to local groups in the Haifa Bay region.
The “Business Award” was given to environmental policy organization Greeneye, which presenters called a “groundbreaking financial- environmental-social company.”
The “Volunteer Award” was jointly given to Danit Klein-Guetta of Sha’ar Efrayim, and Hassan Jayosi of neighboring Kalansua. The two led efforts to clean up their hometowns, including working to clean up illegal garbage dumps, preventing the burning of trash, and resolving a local air pollution problem.
The “Lifetime Achievement Award” was given to Tel Aviv University professor Dan Rabinowitz, who heads the school’s sociology and anthropology department