Netanyahu hails Israel’s ‘leading role’ in addressing climate change
PM urges world leaders to utilize Israel's water and irrigation techniques

Netanyahu hails Israel’s ‘leading role’ in addressing climate change

In address to Paris summit, PM cites local innovations in solar, agricultural and irrigation technology as examples of combating global crisis

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Le Bourget, outside Paris on November 30, 2015. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Le Bourget, outside Paris on November 30, 2015. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday said Israel is playing a “leading role” in addressing climate change, and pointed to the country’s innovations in environmental technology as an example of effectively addressing the global crisis.

Speaking to some 150 world leaders attending a UN summit in Paris aimed at forging an agreement to stave off global warming, Netanyahu called on the international community to “focus on the security, not just of the nations of the world, but of the world itself.”

Calling climate change one of the “pivotal issues of our time,” the prime minister said Israel was committed to the goals of the conference and noted Israeli advances in solar, agricultural and irrigation technology.

“Technology gives us the ability to do the unimaginable,” Netanyahu said, noting Israel was ranked first in the Global Clean-Tech Innovation Index last year.

“We are a world leader in making the use of water more efficient, therefore more energy efficient. Israel is the number one recycler of water in the world. It has the highest ratio of water efficiency in the world – 70-80%, this is thanks to innovative technologies like drip irrigation, which I know many of you are familiar with,” he said.

For decades, Netanyahu said, Israel has pioneered solar energy research as well as providing desert agricultural innovations in food production. More recently, he said the Prime Minister’s Office has launched a new initiative to reduce global dependence on crude oil and research fuel alternatives.

“Israel is developing what I can call a smart energy grid, and that includes using residential housing, not merely as a consumer of energy, but as individual plants producing energy. This is truly the wave of the future,” he said. “Everything that I’m talking about here has one goal. It’s to optimize our resources; optimize the way we allocate our resources.”

The prime minister urged world leaders to use Israel’s water and irrigation techniques as a example of optimizing the allocation of limited natural resources.

“Israel has had to optimize all its life. We had no material resources. We had precious water, very little water, we had to do more with less,” he said. “Understand that our rainfall in the 67 years of Israel’s independence has almost halved, our population has grown ten times, our GDP per capita has grown forty times. We have no water problem. We have learned to do more with less. This is what we as a planet must learn to do. We must learn to do more with less.

“Israel is a small country with big ideas,” he said in his closing remarks, “I believe that it’s not enough that we have those ideas, or that we apply those ideas in our own country. We are eager to share them with you, both individually and as a collective body as well.”

Netanyahu also used the platform to reiterate his condemnation of state-sponsored incitement to violence, in the wake of the November 13 Paris attacks.

“We have to recognize that radical incitement and lies feed terrorism. Those who are committed to peace must fight incitement, must speak the truth,” he said.

The prime minister likened the terrorists who carried out the bloody attacks in the French capital earlier this month to Palestinian terrorists targeting Israeli civilians in recent weeks. Shared core values of freedom, equality, pluralism, tolerance and democracy would ultimately overcome terrorism, he said.

Netanyahu also repeated his call to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to “stop inciting his people against Israel, and start condemning the murder of innocents in Israel.”

Earlier on Monday at the summit, Netanyahu and Abbas shook hands in a brief, unplanned face-to-face meeting for the first time in over 5 years. Afterwards, Netanyahu said the gesture was simply “protocol,” and did not indicate rapprochement between the two leaders.

In his address, Abbas said he was ready to renew peace talks with Jerusalem, and charged that Israel was devastating the Palestinian environment.

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