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Israel sending 120-strong delegation to Glasgow climate talks

At event in Jerusalem, President Isaac Herzog says the climate crisis must be addressed, ‘Not next year, not in two months’ time. Here and now’

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

Flanked to the right by his wife, Michal, and to the left by Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg, President Isaac Herzog tastes chicken made from laboratory generated cells without harm to the birds, at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, October 25, 2021. (Amos Ben Gershom/ GPO)
Flanked to the right by his wife, Michal, and to the left by Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg, President Isaac Herzog tastes chicken made from laboratory generated cells without harm to the birds, at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, October 25, 2021. (Amos Ben Gershom/ GPO)

Israel will be represented at the United Nations COP26 Climate Talks in Glasgow, Scotland, by a delegation of 120 people drawn from the Knesset, government ministries, civil society, academia, the business sector, and local government. The summit runs from October 31 to November 12.

The delegation will be led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and will include the ministers of energy and environmental protection.

The business section of the delegation will be led by Nitzan Moshe of Israel Chemicals Ltd.

On Monday, the delegation was hosted by President Isaac Herzog at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, and treated to a taste of Israeli-developed meat substitutes and alternative protein.

Herzog and his wife Michal tasted cultured chicken, grown from chicken cells in a laboratory without harm to any poultry.

Produced by the cultured meat company Future Meat, it was manufactured on a special production line, announced to be the first of its kind anywhere in the world.

Part of the Israeli delegation that will fly to the UN Climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, poses at the President’s Residence, in Jerusalem on October 25, 2021. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

The president declared it be delicious. Environmental Protection Minister and longtime animal rights campaigner Tamar Zandberg, who is vegan, said it was the first time she had tasted chicken in seven years.

Inside the hall, the president delivered a strident speech, declaring that “anyone who thought that the climate crisis is an issue that would only affect future generations, or that we have many years to start generating meaningful change, is making a grave mistake.”

“Anyone who thinks that time is on our side is reading the situation incorrectly. The climate issue is an urgent problem, which requires immediate action,” said Herzog.

“We must create as broad a coalition as possible, incorporating all branches of industry, trade, academia and of course the public sector and local government, joining forces with a single goal: to urgently and immediately address the climate crisis. Not next year, not in two months’ time. Here and now.”

Last Wednesday, Herzog announced the establishment of the Israeli Climate Forum, which will operate under the auspices of the President’s Office and be headed by veteran environmental activist and former Hadash MK Dov Khenin, in cooperation with Haim v’Sviva (“Life and Environment”), the umbrella organization of Israeli environmental groups.

At Monday’s event, Zandberg and Energy Minister Karine Elharrar presented a national implementation plan to deal with the climate crisis, put together by 14 ministries.

Zandberg vowed to make the passing of a climate law her first priority when she returns from Scotland. A climate law was drafted in April, but has been held up by Energy Ministry and Finance Ministry objections.

Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg and Energy Minister Karine Elharrar present President Isaac Herzog with a plan for implemented the government’s climate change program at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on October 25, 2021. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Ron Tomer, chairman of the Manufacturers’ Association, assured those present that the business community was in a favor of a low-carbon economy, as well as a green economy, so long as it was also a fair one.

A carbon tax would eventually be introduced in Israel and large amounts of money would be spent to cut carbon emissions, he said, adding that he hoped the state and the government would be prepared to wean themselves off products supplied by countries such as Turkey and China, which are both big polluters.

Meanwhile, a coalition of climate activists protested outside the President’s Residence and called for a climate law.

Climate activists from Greenpeace, Extinction Rebellion and the Emergency Environment and Ecology Headquarters protest outside the President’s Residence in Jerusalem while the Israeli delegation to the Glasgow, Scotland climate talks meets inside, October 25, 2021. (Louisa Salamon)

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