United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) European Regional Director Christophe Bouvier invited Israeli diplomat Ron Adam to lunch in Geneva late last month with only one topic on the agenda: Israel's solar energy production.
"I usually talk to UN people about all sorts of reports, issues with Gaza and other political issues," but Bouvier wanted to talk about what he called the "Israeli paradox," said Adam, who is deputy permanent representative, Mission of Israel to the UN and International Organizations, Geneva.
Adam spoke to The Jerusalem Post by phone Sunday during a visit here.
According to the diplomatic communiquÃ© Adam sent back about the more than hour-long meeting, Bouvier wanted Adam to relay to all the relevant government authorities that the UN was concerned about the fact that while Israel was the foremost exporter of solar technology in the world and an incubator for solar technologies, it was last in actual production of electricity from solar energy.
Bouvier cited specific statistics in megawatts which showed that Israel's solar production was not only lagging behind world leaders like Germany, the US, South Africa and Spain, but even fell short compared to countries like Senegal, Eritrea and Mexico and a host of others.
Bouvier then offered UN assistance to correct what he said was a missed opportunity to exploit Israel's latent potential.
Adam cited in his letter that Bouvier has been a frequent visitor to Israel and was very familiar with it.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was reportedly very interested in Adam's communiquÃ©.
Netanyahu has recently expressed more interest in environmental matters. He called on Israel to find a substitute for oil within 10 years at the President's Conference a few weeks ago. He has reportedly also expressed interest in leading the Israeli delegation to the UN-sponsored climate change negotiations in Copenhagen next month.
The National Infrastructures Ministry responded by saying that it was working as hard as possible to find solutions and remove obstacles to the production of clean energy.
"Since his first day on the job, the minister [Uzi Landau] has put a special emphasis on removing the obstacles standing in the way of clean energy production," National Infrastructures Ministry spokesman Chen Ben-Lulu said Sunday night.
"The minister recognizes the value of producing clean electricity and the ministry has been working very hard to ensure that the country reaches the goal set out of 10% of electricity from alternative sources by 2020," he said.