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COP27: record Israeli mobilisation for Sharm El Sheikh UN Climate Conference

The COP27 through the eyes of our CEO Anne Baer, advisor to Minister of Regional Cooperation Esawi Frej

At Glasgow, the Israelis were already the second biggest delegation with 220 delegates... In Sharm El Sheikh we'll be over 1000, 338 official delegates plus techies, scientists and the civil society !!!

One out of every 30 participants will be Israeli as they see next week's COP27 as extremely strategic. 1 president, 6 ministers, 14 ministries represented... How can we explain this recent and growing mobilisation after decades of apathy in taking their share of UN Climate conferences and commitments?

Being one of Israel's veteran experts in sustainability, I accepted to cancel my summer vacation plans and started advising the Minister of Regional Cooperation Esawi Frej (the only Arab minister in the government) and his team. We have been since working discreetly together in order to prepare Israel's participation to COP27.

Why is it so crucial to support now Climate Regional Action?

First, this year's COP is taking place in the region, in Egypt, which shares a frontier with Israel. Sharm el Sheikh is only five hours drive from Tel-Aviv. After decades of conflicts, Israel and Egypt had signed a Peace treaty back in 1979, first of its kind with an Arab country. Forty-five years later, this treaty has proven its military resilience, while keeping low key on the economic and civil tracks, resulting in rather disappointing cooperation, besides flows of gas and tourists from Israel to Sinai.

Second, Climate challenges have to be met with technological solutions. Israel has already a history of world leadership in water treatment and desalination. But few have heard of the recent applications of Israeli deep tech that meet the COP priorities. In agri tech, in food tech, in space tech, clean and renewable energies. Actually, even the Israeli innovation ecosystem had not realised until very recently that it could make a difference.

From Cyber to Climate

Once, every soldier exiting the technological army units was either hired by a Cyber or a Web company, recruited by one of the 450 multinationals present in Israel, or creating his/her own startup. Within the last 2 years, a new community has emerged. PLANETech - Climate Change Technologies has held its first international Summit last september, with 600 new startups. It has become mainstream to come up with a "green" project rather than a "grey" one (computing, electronics, cyber).

Israeli commitment to Climate

Future will tell whether the new Israeli government will continue the work done by its predecessor and pass the Climate Law which had only gone through its first Knesset reading before the parliament was dismantled and anticipated elections were called. Same for the objective Net Zero by 2050 which was announced last year in Glasgow by then Prime Minister Bennett, and not anchored fast enough. It should be confirmed by the next budget to be voted by the new majority.

Although this commitment came too late, lagging behind other OECD countries, we are left to hope there is no way back and that the topic will not fall into the local politics trap.

After loosing the elections this week, Prime Minister Lapid canceled his coming. It is President Isaac Herzog who will head the massive Israeli delegation. Unlike its Prime Ministers who tend to change every year, Israel benefits from a stable but rather powerless President elected for 7 long years. President Herzog will be therefore the garant of the climate plan continuity.

Ten months ago, Herzog decided that his main initiative will consist in creating the President Climate Forum (reminding me of the French Grenelle de l'Environnement): a vast platform gathering scientists, activists, and the private sector, headed by former high respected Knesset member Dov Khenin in order to come up with concrete measures and sometimes grandiose projects that go well beyond the small country of Israel.

Copyright, Presidency of the State Israel, Nov. 3, 2022.

l attended yesterday the delegation members final prep-exercise hosted by the President before we all break to "Sharm" next week.

The meeting also resonated as a farewell party to (Ms.) Tamar Zandberg who is ending a long political career on the left side of the political map, culminating in a short 16 months mandate as a Minister of Environment.

They both expressed their wish that climate will help to overcome divisions, both at the domestic and regional level.

After all, and this is probably the most important factor in Israel's decision to come in force to Sharm and have its own Pavilion for the first time in COP's delegations Blue Zone, Climate challenges have no frontier, and represent an opportunity for increasing Regional Cooperation.


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