Climate Action

SDG 13 -On a Highway to Climate Hell

COP27 is now upon us. In the background, experts continue to warn that time is running out for climate action.

Israel was represented at the conference by its President, who used the opportunity to dispel skepticism about the country’s determination on climate action: “I wish to reiterate the State of Israel’s solid commitments to achieving net zero carbon emissions and to transforming from fossil fuels to renewable energy by 2050,” he said.

The President also referenced the severe challenges faced by the Middle East region as a whole. He should know. For some time now he has been interacting with regional leaders, as well as collaborating with hundreds of Israelis from government, civil society and academia to accelerate the country’s actions. Around 60 climate reform initiatives have emerged in areas ranging from advancing renewable energy in minority communities to creating a financial model to pay for sustainable development; some have subsequently become part of government activity.

On a Highway to Climate Hell - SDG 13 - Social Impact Israel
@Isaac Herzog on Facebook

It appears that the President is taking his lead from the people. Indeed, leading up to COP27 about 15,000 Israelis marched in Tel Aviv demanding urgent climate action.

According to a recent poll among Israelis, 98% of respondents attached importance – political leanings notwithstanding – to at least one environmental issue; a vast majority also expressed a willingness to make more use of public transportation, shift to electric cars and install solar panels at home.

Another survey, conducted on behalf of the Environmental Protection Ministry, provides texture regarding community attitudes toward the climate crisis. According to the survey, for instance, 83% of the general public demonstrated awareness of the crisis’ significance as compared with 55% of Haredi Jews and 50% of the Arab community.

On a Highway to Climate Hell - SDG 13 - Social Impact Israel
@Isaac Herzog on Facebook

While the outgoing government made some progress, it has also left much climate action work for its successor. Having said that, the senior professionals who have been working under a number of governments in the past few years continue their efforts to improve Israel’s climate performance. The Environmental Protection Ministry’s ongoing and well-budgeted focus on municipalities’ climate resilience is just one example.

Bottom line: while conferences (and governments) come and go, warnings about the imminent catastrophe remain with us; or in the words of the UN Secretary General: “We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator.” Sitting on our hands until COP28 will only bring us closer to global disaster.

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