Glenn Franco Simmons
All humans have been created from the same dust.
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Israel remains a leader in climate-change technology

While scientists debate just how - and even if - climate change is going to affect the world, Israel is doing its share to prevent it
Visitors top up their glasses with treated sea water at a desalination plant near Hadera, Israel (Shay Levy/Flash90)
Visitors top up their glasses with treated sea water at a desalination plant near Hadera, Israel (Shay Levy/Flash90)

Through its drip irrigation and other agricultural methods, Israel has been a leading innovator in what many now consider essential methods to grow crops and conserve water in this era of climate change.

On a global scale, Israel’s carbon output is almost nil, as Owen Alterman stated in his report titled “Climate Change and Security: An Israeli Perspective.”

“On the mitigation front, Israel can do little,” Mr. Alterman notes. “Israel has signed the leading climate change agreements and laid out plans for curbing its emissions (plans to be bolstered by a switch to natural gas for generating electricity). Still, Israeli emissions are a tiny part of the global whole. The United States and China, alone, emit 44 percent of the globe’s carbon.”

Mr. Alterman notes that Israel addressed the process of mitigation and adaptation with a report issued by the Israel Climate Change Information Center in 2014.

Israel’s ingenuity when it comes to conservation and innovation should help the rest of the world.

He said “Israeli technology and techniques” may yield what he called “geopolitical benefits” for Israel.

“For decades, Israeli scientists and companies have pioneered agricultural and water use technologies that have helped build Israel’s soft power throughout the developing world,” according to Mr. Alterman. “Drip irrigation is perhaps the leading and best known example. Israeli scientists pioneered new methods for drip irrigation, a method of maximizing the efficiency of water use in agriculture.

“From the 1960s onward those developments in technique were marketed throughout Africa, often to great effect, and their export from Israel to Africa continues. … Climate change may lead to a rise in demand among developing countries for exactly the technologies and techniques that Israel is highly equipped to supply.”

Israeli citizens should take great pride in the achievements of its private sector in this regard.

“In the 2014 Global Cleantech Innovation Index (prepared by the Cleantech Group with the imprimatur of the well-recognized World Wildlife Fund), Israel topped the list as the world leader in the field,” Mr. Alterman notes. “In specific terms, the Asian Development Bank lists drip irrigation and water use technologies (including those reducing water waste) as among the most relevant for climate change adaptation.”

In these areas, Israel already excels.

“Another promising arena,” Mr. Alterman continues, “… is desalination, where Israeli advances in technology have made their way abroad, including through IDE Technologies, a leader in the field. Information technology for the health sector might also become a growing market due to climate change-driven impacts on human health.”

Mr. Alterman points out that Israel is not new to the climate-change discussion. He cites a statement by the Ministry of Environmental Protection’s chief scientist in 2006:

“Israel can, and must, take advantage of this situation [of climate change] to become a regional, and even global, center of knowledge that contributes to international welfare through teaching and explanation. Israel also can reap substantial profits from the marketing of goods and technologies based on this knowledge.

“The Israeli government has already decided to invest hundreds of millions of shekels to place Israel in a central position in the global water industry, a fast developing market. The global needs arising from climate change could greatly enhance the attractiveness and comparative advantage of Israel as a leader with knowledge and experience proven over decades of confronting the difficulties posed by climate and a shortage of water resources. These global needs could move Israel to a leading position worldwide in assessing, confronting, and adapting to climate change.”

“In the {10} years since that statement,” Mr. Alterman notes, “government agencies have acted to promote Israeli technologies and know how. In Israel, the government established the Israel Climate Change Information Center at the University of Haifa, a center working both on domestic adaptation to climate change and promotion of Israeli technologies abroad.”

The future of adapting to climate change will require a continuation of a partnership between governments and private industry — a junction where Israel is already making an impact.

“The Ministry of Economy … signed an agreement with the World Bank that will step up the sharing of water technologies with developing countries,” Mr. Alterman noted. “Beyond that, the ministry has published a report highlighting 350 Israeli companies with technologies relevant for adapting to climate change.

“Many focus on water use and agricultural techniques, while others tackle infrastructure development or disaster response. Many of the firms target regions where climate change poses a particular threat.

“IDE Technologies is building a desalination plant in California, a project that has received added attention due to California’s worsening drought,” he continues.

As of July 2015, Mr. Alterman says that “at least 20 of the companies are involved in projects in India, ranging from desalination to renewable (wind) energy to crop protection (including from climate induced threats).”

One could say that Israel’s contribution to climate change mitigation are essential to a world attempting to adapt to climate change effects.

Further reading:
Mr. Alterman’s paper
ICCIC report.

About the Author
Glenn was an editor and publisher for many years. All of his columns are opinions and should not be confused with news stories.
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