New climate change report spells disaster for Israel

A new report published on Tuesday by the Ministry of Environmental Protection paints an alarming picture of the future of the state of Israel.

Lightning strikes over the Mediterranean sea during a rain storm near the city of Ashkelon (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
Lightning strikes over the Mediterranean sea during a rain storm near the city of Ashkelon
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
The countries of the world are currently meeting in Madrid as a part of the UN Climate Change Conference, COP25, with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, mitigating global warming and encouraging global cooperation.
An Israeli delegation was sent to represent Israel in the Madrid discussions, led by Minister of Energy Dr. Yuval Steinitz, and including representatives from the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Ministry of Energy and other government officials.
As part of the conference, the MEP released their report on the effects that climate change is expected to have on Israel and the region.
The report focuses on four climate trends expected to negatively impact Israel: higher temperatures, higher humidity, rising sea levels and more extreme weather fluctuations.
The report details the projected effects of the climate change trends on a number of factors in everyday Israeli life, describing an expected rise in the risk of natural disasters, famine, floods, water contamination, forced migration, pandemics and increased border tensions.
"The goal of the report is to ensure a high level of preparation from the State of Israel for dealing with the impacts of a changing climate, implementation of plans and policy measures intended to reduce health, environmental and economic risk, which will exploit potential climate change opportunities and benefits," an MEP spokesperson said, summarizing the report.
"The Middle East is a known hot spot in terms of global warming, meaning it will be more heavily affected by climate change," the MEP spokesperson added. "This week's conference in Madrid is a reminder that it is imperative that not just Israel, but all the world's countries be prepared for the effects."
When it comes to adapting and preparing for climate change in Israel, the MEP identifies four climate related trends in Israel:
Higher Temperatures
- According to the recently published Meteorological Service Report, the average temperature in Israel has already risen by about 1.4 degrees Celsius since 1950 and is expected to rise by another 0.9-1.2 degrees by the end of 2050; meaning that a rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius is expected within 100 years.
- An increase in the frequency of the number of hot days and nights is expected per year, along with a decrease in the frequency of cold days and nights - an existing trend that is expected to continue.
Drier days
- According to the Meteorological Service report, there will be a reduction in precipitation by more than 15-25% by the end of the century. The downward trend in precipitation has been in place for the past 30 years and is expected to continue.
- There will be an increase in the number of dry days per year - an existing trend that is expected to continue.
- Dehydration of water sources (with emphasis on northeastern Israel and the Sea of ​​Galilee basin).
Rising sea levels
- A gradual rise of the Mediterranean Sea is expected. Information gaps still exist today regarding the exact height of the expected rise in the Mediterranean and the area that is expected to be affected or flooded in Israel.
More extreme weather events
- An increase in the frequency and intensity of heat waves is expected.
- Stronger precipitation events (storms) are expected.
- A change in rainfall distribution is expected in the geographical layout, changes in frequency, duration and intensity of precipitation events (a larger amount of rainfall in a shorter time).
Expected effects of climate trends - by category:
On Nature: dehydration of streams and humid habitats; impairment of ecosystem resilience and terrestrial and marine biodiversity and human welfare ecosystem services; Changing species migration patterns; increased prevalence of forest fires; penetration and outbreak of invasive species into foreign ecosystems.
On public health: an increase in the frequency and intensity of heat waves, a phenomenon known to worsen in dense urban areas known as being an "urban heat island". Research shows that the temperature difference between open spaces and city centers temperature can reach up to 9°C. The changing climate is also a major cause of disease outbreaks, best exemplified by the recent outbreak of diseases transmitted by insect bites (such as West Nile Fever). The outbreak of the disease in Israel appeared after a long period of heavy heatwaves.
There may also be an increase in air pollution and respiratory illness due to an increase in dust; along with an increase in mental pressure and physiological effects resulting from the heavy heat. In addition, extreme weather events are expected to increase crowding and disease spread hospitals.
On the Economy: Climate change has a long-term negative impact on economic output in various countries and economic sectors, and on worker output in general. It is estimated that the climate crisis will shrink the global economy by the end of the century, taking Israel's economy with it.
On society: There may be increased harm to the disadvantaged, especially women, children, disabled people and the elderly. Some countries are anticipating an increase in violence in the public sphere.
On Infrastructure: An increase in precipitation events increases the risk of flooding, damage to infrastructure and property; expected damage to facilities, transportation, communications, water systems and waste management. Rising sea levels are likely to cause more severe damage to infrastructure along the coasts (e.g. power plants, desalination plants, ports).
On personal and national security: increase in the frequency of fires; anticipated damage to energy security, food supply and proper drinking water.
On geopolitical instability: The impact of climate change on neighboring countries could lead to a strategic threat - border tension, massive waves of migration from developing countries (mainly from the African continent). International pressure to accept massive amounts of refugees.
On agriculture: There will be a negative impact on crops (deterioration in quantity, quality and types of agricultural crops), on livestock farming (increased pest spread and multiplicity, land erosion). The forecast for an increase in extreme weather events will increase agricultural insurance costs for storm damage, pest damage and natural disasters.
Impacts on water and energy: decreased refilling of natural water sources, increased pollution of water sources; groundwater salinity increases, causing a decline in water quality. Decrease in water production potential; A significant reduction in the amount of water in the Lake of the Sea of ​​Galilee and changes in the salinity of the Sea of ​​Galilee are expected; An increase in demand for water; Increase in energy consumption, increase in frequency of power outages.