KKL-JNF Goals and Action after Copenhagen

The Copenhagen Conference, ended on 19th December 2009 having addressed the two major challenges the human race must face as a result of the climate crisis: (a) the need to mitigate the damage and (b) the effort to adapt to the dangers it will create. The KKL-JNF delegation to the conference present

February 22, 2010 11:18

KKL_Water_top. (photo credit: KKL)


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The Copenhagen Conference, ended on 19th December 2009 having addressed the two major challenges the human race must face as a result of the climate crisis: (a) the need to mitigate the damage and (b) the effort to adapt to the dangers it will create. The KKL-JNF delegation to the conference presented and related to both these challenges, in terms of its ongoing activities to prevent global warming.

The KKL-JNF approach was expressed by the delegation's support of President Shimon Peres' stand.

"We congratulate President Peres on taking a leadership role at the conference by declaring Israel's readiness to set a voluntary goal of a 20% emissions reduction - as opposed to the "business-as-usual" attitude. The KKL-JNF Position Paper that was published in anticipation of the conference supported Environmental Minister Gilad Erdan's efforts to promote an ambitious governmental emissions reduction to be implemented before Israel feels compelled to do so by international agreements. This was the first such political declaration by such a high-ranking official as President Shimon Peres and it is very important in terms of having such a decision passed in the government. The minister should be encouraged to set an attainable goal and to create a practical plan for achieving it. It is true that this goal needs to be reviewed periodically and it must be updated so that a more significant commitment can be achieved in the future to the extent that Israel will have available technologies and the resources to realize this goal.

The President had noted Israel's technological advancements and Israel's willingness to share this technology with other nations in the world. KKL-JNF supports the President's declaration and is prepared to make the information, practical experience and technologies that it has developed over the years in land preservation, water projects and afforestation, available to developing countries."

The Overlooked Aspect of the Copenhagen Conference:
The Critical Need to Prepare for Climate Change

By Dr. Or Karassin, Head of the KKL-JNF Delegation to the UN Climate Change Conference

The earth is already getting hotter. Climate change is a known fact. This had already been determined by the report of a panel of international climate scientists in 2007. Since the Industrial Revolution, the earth has become over 0.5 degrees hotter. Even if the countries of the world were to commit themselves to the most ambitious reduction goals, the earth will still heat up by another 2º by the year 2050. The influence of quantities of carbon in the atmosphere is meanwhile suspended owing to their continuous cycles but eventually, their influence will be felt, according to all the experts. It is important to understand that the forecast of a rise of global warming of "only" 2º is the most optimistic scenario and the chances of its being realized are slim. The probability of comprehensive, effective, dramatic action by the international community is not high and the absence of declared commitments of both the developed and developing countries could lead to global warming of at least 4º, according to forecasts presented by senior scientists from Oxford University.

Although formal discussion at the conference, especially those dealing with financing and exchange of technologies, had already addressed adaptation to climate change, in particular the desperate need of several countries to be prepared, this subject was largely ignored by many politicians who appeared to be in denial or concerned that even talking about adaptation may divert attention from essential efforts to reduce emissions or mitigate the damage of global warming.

Of the Israeli environmental organizations and Knesset members who understood these problems, some had adopted a similar stand, ignoring the need to allocate immediate resources to prepare for climate changes. The tactic is obscure but the ramifications may be catastrophic. In what seemed like a solitary voice, with the support of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, KKL-JNF emphasized at the start of the conference the need to reduce emissions wherever possible but simultaneously prepare for global warming wherever necessary.

The covenant in preparation supports this position. Scientists are united in the opinion that we must prepare for climate change, develop capabilities, minimize damage and act for the long term. But, it seems, Israeli politicians do not want to hear about this.

Preparing in time will prevent firstly loss of life. It will also prevent economic loss, the increasing social gap and payment of the primary economic burden of global warming by the weakest sectors of society. Signs of the future can already be seen in Israel, with the burden of the water crisis being placed on those beneath the poverty line who are being taxed for water, a basic commodity that they may not be able to afford.

The bitter truth is that Israel will not overcome the climate crisis but will be overcome by it if Israel does not act to combat it. Israel will suffer from decreasing water reserves; the rise of sea level; the possibility of its coastal cities being flooded; the possibility of the collapse of the coastal cliff; an extreme worsening of its already arid climate and further desertification. This message, however, does not necessarily have to be pessimistic. It is still possible to avoid the worst results of global warming if we prepare ourselves in time. The example of Indonesia can provide us with inspiration, where the installation along Indonesia's beaches of early warning devices of the country's severe natural disasters resulted, over the past year, in reducing casualties to a minimum. Israel already has the technological capacity, the accumulated experience and the social abilities to prepare for climate change, which is not the case of many countries with similar climatic conditions to ours. If Israel prepares in time and in the proper manner, it will not only save itself, but could also become a center, transferring information and technologies to developing countries to enable them to prepare for climate change.

We refer to creating a system to identify weaknesses and vulnerability of each sector of the population to anticipated changes. Such farsighted public policy must create its incentives for the essential behavioral, technological and structural changes. The scope of necessary adaptation is enormous but if correctly undertaken we are able to contribute to the quality of life and the environment in Israel - particularly by implementing the necessary steps for reducing emissions.

For example, the time has come to build housing in styles that are adapted to the climate, to enable a reduction in the use of air conditioning. A multi-year development plan for the water economy must be promoted immediately, taking future lack into consideration. The future of Israel's agriculture and open spaces in times of water scarcity must be re-planned. Building and development for areas near the coastal cliffs must be re-examined.

These are only some examples of what the government must do in the very near future to ensure that Israel's standard of living remains stable. Preparing for climate change in time will be translated into accelerated technological development in this field, enabling Israel to transfer technologies and advice to developing countries. For this reason, KKL-JNF joins the call of the Minister for Environmental Protection, Gilad Erdan and the Chief Scientist of the Ministry for Environmental Protection, to establish a national center for adaptation to climate change in Israel. We should not forget that in fields such as water recycling and afforestation in arid & semi-arid areas, protecting the land and creating local cooling pockets, Israel has already achieved noteworthy prominence.

The time has come for our leaders to tell us what scientists have has already determined a long time ago. The time has come for our leaders to tell us the truth, which is that today we must begin to pay the price of climate change and the sooner we start paying, the better it will be. We must demand that our leaders fight global warming without compromise, but at the same time, prepare for global warming as though the struggle may fail.

For more information, please visit our website at www.kkl.org.il/eng or e-mail ahuvab@kkl.org.il

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