Over the past decade, Israel has become a leader in the climate tech space, with a booming ecosystem of start-ups, investors, and support organisations dedicated to building innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. While we have built many of the most cutting-edge technologies to help address global and regional challenges in this sphere, our country is small by land size and to create the most impact, we are working closely with our regional partners to develop regional plans to address these issues. With our technology and the size of the wider region, we are poised to create great impact together.
Despite the war and ongoing suffering in Israel as a result of the October 7 terror attack, we feel it is important to participate in COP28 as we are equally committed to achieving our goals at the international event. We are on the front lines of climate innovation and bring with us experience in areas such as water, agriculture, alternative proteins and food security, renewable energies, and nature-based solutions, which can be applied regionally and globally, and assist with our common climate goals.
Environmental challenges are becoming a priority for countries in the Middle East and are increasing cross-border cooperation — including between Israel and its Arab and Muslim neighbours. Such cooperation assists in tackling climate change through a regional and global lens, and also fosters regional stability, maintains and expands circles of peace and normalisation, and increases prosperity and economic development. Various Israeli ministries are involved in these efforts. They identify a range of opportunities for enhanced regional cooperation, as well as a broad set of challenges that need to be overcome. These are being explored and tackled by the Israeli Climate Forum, established in 2021 by President Isaac Herzog, as part of his vision of a Renewable Middle East.
To create a larger impact, the Middle East and North African countries must work together towards our collective regional climate goals.
To create a larger impact, the Middle East and North African (MENA) countries must work together towards our collective regional climate goals. An alliance between Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the GCC countries, Jordan, and Morocco with the support of the United States creates an opportunity for us to work on climate issues that threaten the entire region.
Scale back on fossil fuels
Mena is considered a climate hotspot, based on models that predict a rise of 20 per cent in average global temperatures and increasing numbers of extreme weather events, including shrinking water sources, wildfires, rising sea levels, desertification and sandstorms. Therefore, a successful transition in global energy requires that Mena countries scale back the production of fossil fuels and develop their own renewable and clean sources of energy.
Net zero goal by 2050
We are seeing many countries in our region adapt to changing energy trends. The UAE unveiled the UAE Net Zero strategic initiative, which conducted a comprehensive study, evaluation, and proposal of national climate pathways to attain net zero emissions by 2050. With the endorsement of the plan by the UAE Cabinet, it unveiled this month a range of enablers and initiatives that will expedite its path to becoming a climate-neutral country. The Saudi Green Initiative aims to reduce the use of fossil fuels and move to 50 per cent clean energy. Bahrain’s Vision 2030 outlines measures to protect the natural environment, reduce carbon emissions, minimise pollution, and promote sustainable energy. National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NEEAP) and the National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) set national energy efficiency and national renewable energy 2025 targets of 6 and 5 per cent, respectively, with the NREAP target increasing to 10 per cent by 2035.
The key to achieving our global sustainability goals is collaboration and due to the Abraham Accords and the growing relationships between Israel and our Arab neighbours, this is the time for us to work together and achieve our regional climate action goals together. The climate crisis represents an opportunity to establish such collaborations, and they must be included in any economic, scientific, environmental, and business plan. Given the fact that Israel is a highly technologically advanced country but geographically small and has a small economy in itself, this international cooperation is particularly important to us. The UAE has played a pivotal role in moving forward the region’s sustainability goals and has been a wonderful partner for us.
The UAE’s leadership in coordinating regional climate action and cooperation is something we are excited to be part of. I extend my best wishes to President His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the people of the UAE for hosting this prestigious event, which I have no doubt will be a great success. Thank you for being wonderful partners as we work together on climate action initiatives to benefit our countries and the region more generally.
– The writer is the Ambassador of Israel to the UAE