The Israeli government has approved a plan designed to promote “climate innovation”, focusing on the use of technology to help it and other countries prepare for and mitigate climate change.
The plan, which was passed on Sunday, will see the development of technologies for use in the areas of climate, energy, food and agriculture to help Israel realise its carbon emission reduction targets. The government hopes that innovations developed as a result of its plan will also be adopted by other countries keen to tackle global climate problems.
Prime Minister’s Office director-general Yair Pines has been tasked with creating a support system for the research and development of technologies designed to fight climate change, pooling ministries’ resources and using research funds established with other countries.
Pines will also lead a task force, along with the attorney-general and representatives of the Finance Ministry, whose aim is to accelerate innovation by removing regulatory obstacles to research and the development of technologies for public infrastructure. It will present its findings and recommendations within a year.
Environmental protection minister Tamar Zandberg – who will lead the climate-tech plan with prime minister Naftali Bennett and energy minister Karin Elharrar – said that after “too many years of foot-dragging”, the Israeli government was at last showing “real commitment” on the issue.
The plan is “not only a chance for us to jump-start Israel’s innovation and technology economy, but to also plan a central role in the solutions to the climate crisis beyond our relative role, regionally and globally,” she said.
Israel is proud of its tech sector, which employs a tenth of the workforce – with companies specialising in cybersecurity, defence and financial technologies having enjoyed international success. The government hopes the green sector will become another field in which Israel excels.
Elharrar said the plan would “remove obstacles, promote pioneering projects and ease entrepreneurship in the area of green energy”.
As part of its plan, the government is to put forward 100 action items for coping with the climate crisis, four of which were passed last week. These include an energy-streamlining programme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including 750m Israeli Shekels (US$234m) to support industry, commerce, and local government; an intention to accelerate infrastructure projects with a focus on removing obstacles to renewable energy; and a resolution on clean, low-carbon transportation.
Prime minister Bennett declared climate change a national security priority. “The climate crisis is one of the central topics on the global agenda,” he said. “It concerns the lives of all of us, and also the lives of our children and grandchildren. We are obligated to deal with it in Israel; it is at the core of our being.”
He said the National Security Council would work on improving national preparedness for emergencies stemming from climate change such as wildfires and extreme weather conditions.
He also announced that the government would hold the Prime Minister’s Conference for Climate Innovation and Technology, attended by senior government officials, private sector representatives, academics and NGOs.
In June, the new coalition government led by Bennett set Israel the objective of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 27% by 2030, and by 85% by 2050, compared to the 2015 level.
Mia is a journalist and editor with a background in covering commercial property, having been market reports and supplements editor at trade title Property Week and deputy editor of Shopping Centre magazine, now known as Retail Destination. She has also undertaken freelance work for several publications including the preview magazine of international trade show, MAPIC, and TES Global (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) and has produced a white paper on energy efficiency in business for E.ON. Between 2014 and 2016, she was a member of the Revo Customer Experience Committee and an ACE Awards judge. Mia graduated from Kingston University with a first-class degree in journalism and was part of the team that produced The River newspaper, which won Publication of the Year at the Guardian Student Media Awards in 2010.
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