COP26: Gov’t unveils climate innovation plan ahead of conference

The idea behind the plan is to use Israel’s unique advantages in the areas of innovation and technology to realize its goals of reducing carbon use and emissions by 2030 and 2050.

THE KNESSET building in Jerusalem holds one of the world’s smallest legislatures. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
THE KNESSET building in Jerusalem holds one of the world’s smallest legislatures.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

The cabinet on Sunday approved a new plan to promote “climate innovation,” a week before Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and other ministers are set to attend the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.

“The climate crisis is one of the central topics on the global agenda,” Bennett said. “It touches everyone’s lives, and those of our children and grandchildren. We must take care of it here in Israel, and it is important to us.”

The National Security Council will also be involved in preparing for the climate crisis, which will be addressed as part of Israel’s strategic planning process.

It will work on improving national preparedness for coping with emergencies stemming from climate change, such as wildfires and extreme winter conditions.

The government plans to put forward 100 action items for coping with the climate crisis, four of which were passed on Sunday: a resolution on an energy-streamlining program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with NIS 725 million to support industry, commerce and local government; a resolution on clean, low-carbon transportation; a resolution to accelerate building infrastructure with a focus on removing obstacles to renewable energy; and a resolution to encourage technological innovation to fight climate change.

 A person holds inflatable Earth as climate activists including Extinction Rebellion and Fridays for Future stage a protest demanding more action whilst G20 climate and environment ministers hold a meeting in Naples, Italy, July 22, 2021. (credit: GUGLIELMO MANGIAPANE / REUTERS) A person holds inflatable Earth as climate activists including Extinction Rebellion and Fridays for Future stage a protest demanding more action whilst G20 climate and environment ministers hold a meeting in Naples, Italy, July 22, 2021. (credit: GUGLIELMO MANGIAPANE / REUTERS)

The climate-tech plan, led by Bennett, Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg and Energy Minister Karin Elharrar, is meant to boost the development of technologies to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for and adapt to climate change. The technologies will be in the areas of climate, energy, food, agriculture – including desert agriculture, water and more.

The government will seek to leverage Israeli innovation to provide solutions for global climate problems, maximizing opportunities to strengthen Israel’s economy and promoting regional cooperation and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.

The plan also seeks to use Israel’s unique advantages in the areas of innovation and technology to realize the country’s goals to reduce carbon use and emissions by 2030 and 2050.

The government established a task force, led by Prime Minister’s Office Director-General Yair Pines with the attorney-general and representatives of the Finance Ministry, to accelerate climate technologies by removing regulatory obstacles to research, development and implementation of mitigation and adaptation technologies for public infrastructure. The task force is meant to publish its findings and recommendations within a year.

At the same time, Pines will work to create a support system for research and development of technologies to fight climate change, including using research funds established with other countries, and pooling resources between ministries.

The Prime Minister’s Office, Energy Ministry, Environmental Protection Ministry, Innovation, Science and Technology Ministry, Economics and Industry Ministry and Agriculture Ministry will work together to start the Prime Minister’s Conference for Climate Innovation and Technology, at which the prime minister, senior government representatives, private sector, academia and NGOs will be present.

Zandberg said the plan is “not only a chance for us to jump-start Israel’s innovation and technology economy, but to also play a central role in the solutions to the climate crisis beyond our relative role, regionally and globally.”

Elharrar said, “The time has come to enlist Israeli creativity and innovation for Israel’s fight against climate change.

“For years, Israeli start-ups were on the forefront of world action in various areas,” Elharrar said. “This decision is meant to remove obstacles, promote pioneering projects and ease entrepreneurship in the area of green energy.

Likud MK Gila Gamliel, a former environmental protection minister, gave the plan a score of “100 in public relations, zero in actions.”

“The climate package that the government is presenting today is no more than a smokescreen,” Gamliel argued. “Once again, we are getting a public relations show with bombastic declarations, which has no long-term strategy behind it. The price for not taking care of the climate crisis at this time will be paid by our grandchildren and the coming declarations. [It is] sad, embarrassing and shameful.”