Green group urges Israelis to attend Friday’s annual pre-COP27 climate march

With surveys indicating that politicians lag behind public on environmental issues, nature organization cites ‘shameful disregard of the climate crisis’ in run-up to election

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter

Thousands march through Tel Aviv to call for government action on climate change, October 29, 2021. (Green Course)
Thousands march through Tel Aviv to call for government action on climate change, October 29, 2021. (Green Course)

The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) on Tuesday called on Israelis to turn out in force and demonstrate on Friday against what it called the “shameful disregard of the climate crisis.”

The climate march, held each year in the run-up to the United Nation’s annual COP climate conference, is expected to attract thousands, among them around 40 nonprofit organizations, along with student unions, youth movements and individuals.

Organizers of last year’s march estimated that 12,000 people took part.

COP27 will officially open on November 6 in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheikh, and will end on November 18.

This year, the march will also take place right before Israeli elections on November 1.

Shows and speeches will kick off at the plaza in front of the Tel Aviv Museum of Arts at 10 a.m., and the march will set off from there at around 11:30 a.m. and finish at 2 p.m.

Israel Railways will add more trains to get people to the event.

Among other calls, the SPNI is urging marchers to demand the improvement and completion of a climate law that passed its first reading in the Knesset in May after being watered down under pressure from the Finance Ministry.

“In a reality where the climate crisis affects our daily routine and threatens the present and the future more than ever, we will march together and demand that the decision-makers in Israel act now in order to face the biggest and most important challenge of our time,” an SPNI statement said.

Earlier this week, two surveys of green attitudes suggested that the public may be more concerned about environmental and climate issues than the politicians are.

Little more than a handful of Knesset members on party lists for the Israeli election have shown any interest in environmental issues, among them former environmental protection minister Gila Gamliel (Likud) — ranked 30 on the party’s list — Yesh Atid’s Yorai Lahav-Hertzanu (15th) and Yasmin Sacks Friedman, an animal rights campaigner (20); Sharren Haskel (11) and Alon Tal (24) of the National Unity Party; and Mossi Raz and Gaby Lasky of Meretz.

On Tuesday, Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu promised the ultra-Orthodox population that if he becomes prime minister, he will scrap recently increased taxes on disposable plastic.

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