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‘Climate diplomacy’ plays growing role in Israeli international relations

CM 10/08/2021


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Within hours of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change releasing a report warning the world to take action, Israel’s Foreign Ministry released a message of support on Monday, and touted Israeli technological solutions for the climate crisis.

The report is “important and deserves much attention in Israel and the world,” the Foreign Ministry statement reads. “The report is a warning light and requires joint international action to share knowledge and experience to prevent the extreme scenarios it describes.”
Among the report’s major findings is that the world is dangerously close to the threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels of global warming. If serious changes are not made, the earth will be over two degrees warmer in the 21st century, which would cause irreversible damage and more extreme climate events, like heatwaves, floods and more. However, the report says, there is time to limit climate change; strongly reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions could stabilize global temperatures in 20-30 years.
The Foreign Ministry has been engaged in what it calls “climate diplomacy,” including participating in major world events – like the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November – and holding Earth Day events at dozens of Israeli embassies and consulates earlier this year.

Israel’s Special Envoy for Climate Change Gideon Behar pointed out on Tuesday that the issues in his purview have become major ones on the international agenda, which arise often in relations between countries.
“My responsibility is to integrate considerations that relate to climate change, sustainability, nature and the environment into Israel’s foreign policy and diplomacy,” Behar explained, “as well as to mirror to the government, civil society and academia the major developments and trends going on in the world that have implications for Israel.”
When a senior Israeli figure talks to a foreign counterpart – such as when President Isaac Herzog spoke with US Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday, and the topic of climate change arose – Behar is the one writing talking points on the topic.
Behar, whose position is at the level of an ambassador, also gives Israeli missions abroad information about Israeli policies, like the recent government decision to institute a carbon tax and reduce emissions, which they can relay to their host countries.
Israel wants to deliver a message that “we see the success of COP26 as an important matter. We want…to limit global warming to under 1.5 degrees Celsius, and to encourage other countries in the world to do the same,” Behar said.
Israel’s major contribution in combating climate change is that it provides solutions to intractable problems, Behar explained.
Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz pointed out in the statement responding to the IPCC report that Israel “has dealt with severe climate challenges since its establishment and has great multidisciplinary knowledge in climate innovation…that can help all of us deal with the challenges we are facing.”
Behar said “the whole world is grappling with unsolved problems…and the solutions that exist to day are too few and not scaled up enough. Israel has immense solutions.”
“We say Israel can be and should be the international lab for developing practical solutions for climate change,” he added.
One of the major aims of Israel’s “climate diplomacy” is to promote awareness of Israel in as a leader in developing technologies in the environmental, sustainability and climate change spheres.  Some of the innovations that Israelis are so proud of, from drip irrigation and re-forestation in the early decades of the Jewish state, to more recent developments, like advances in solar power and other renewable energies, desalination, and more can be scaled up to deal with the problems raised by climate change and mitigate some of its causes.
Many Israeli companies are addressing the problem of storage for many kinds of clean energy. In other words, to figure out how to store solar or wind energy when it is produced so it can be used when it’s not sunny or windy out. Behar pointed to Israeli companies solving the storage problem by using green energy to produce compressed air or ice, which is then used for energy purposes.
“There are amazing solutions in the field of alternative proteins – cultured meat, milk, eggs, plant-based proteins that mimic livestock proteins,” Behar said. “Israel is a leader in that field, number two or three in the world in alternative proteins. That is an immense answer to climate change mitigation, which also fortifies our food security in an era of climate change.”
According to Behar, diplomats from the US to EU to China have looked to Israeli technology for climate solutions.
“Our challenge is to understand that this can be and should be our major contribution to the climate crisis,” Behar said. “It opens vast opportunities for growth in Israel that can strengthen our economy, improve our image and create a better world.”
The Foreign Ministry is an important player in how Israel deals with climate change, he added, because “no one country can deal with climate change alone. We need international cooperation, peer learning, to see what other countries are doing and to share what we are doing, because only together can we overcome this huge challenge.”

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CM

The host of Coffee Mouth Scare Crow Show and CEO of 452 Impact, Inc. Here is food for thought. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." John 3:16 "For God so love ed the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall be saved."

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