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In Egypt, Herzog inaugurates Israel’s first pavilion at a COP climate event

President says climate change an existential issue that ‘transcends politics and borders, and is perhaps the only issue that can unite humankind’

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

President Isaac Herzog inaugurates Israel's pavilion at the UN COP27 climate conference in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, November 7, 2022. (Haim Zach/ GPO)
President Isaac Herzog inaugurates Israel's pavilion at the UN COP27 climate conference in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, November 7, 2022. (Haim Zach/ GPO)

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — President Isaac Herzog on Monday inaugurated the Israeli pavilion at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh — the country’s first-ever pavilion at a UN climate change conference, and the first on Egyptian soil since a 1985 business conference in Cairo.

Herzog said the pavilion was “clear proof of Israel’s growing involvement in the climate issue… a matter close to my heart.”

It was also significant because it was in Egypt, he added, a “very important country.”

The Israeli delegation to COP27 includes government officials and four outgoing ministers — Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg, Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton, Innovation, Science and Technology Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen, and Regional Cooperation Minister Issawi Frej, as well as representatives of the Foreign Ministry, civil society groups, business and industry, and academia.

The Israeli pavilion showcases 10 climate tech companies in the fields of water, agriculture, weather, renewable energy, and forest protection, and will be running daily events through the end of the confab on November 18.

“We are committed. Israel is committed to the global fight against climate change,” Herzog said. “I said so in my meetings with the… leaders I have met so far. I have had important discussions with the prime minister of Britain, the king of Jordan, the president of the United Arab Emirates, and more.

“Within the global climate crisis, which obligates us, we also have opportunities. Crises create opportunities: first of all, to show the world the State of Israel’s wonderful capabilities. Thus far, we have seen an example of Israel’s ideas, genius, capabilities, and inventions.”

Herzog said climate change “is an issue that is not only existential for all of us, it’s also an issue that transcends politics and borders, and is perhaps the only issue that can unite humankind.”

Environmental Protection Minister Zandberg said that Israel was arriving at this year’s COP conference in a better position than a year ago, but urged the next Israeli government to continue working hard to avert what she called the climate-related “existential crisis.”

Education Minister Shasha-Biton said she was proud that her ministry would be presenting its new K12 climate curriculum at the international confab.

Regional Cooperation Minister Frej said that “it is no coincidence that the first country in the region that signed a peace treaty with Israel, in 1979, is also the first country where Israel has built a COP pavilion. The climate crisis threatens us all but it’s also a tremendous opportunity for transnational regional cooperation and new agreements, and that’s what we must emphasize.”

“The way to confront climate challenges and meet the targets the government has set for reducing greenhouse gas emissions is by using technologies and harnessing Israeli entrepreneurship, innovation, and hi-tech,” added Farkash-Hacohen.

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