Israel to send 1,000-strong delegation to UN climate confab, led by PM, president

Biggest official group so far will take part in 70 blue and white events aimed largely at leveraging climate tech for regional, international partnerships

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter

A youth walks on cracked and dried up soil at the Hawizeh marshes, which straddle Iraq's border with Iran, in the southeastern Maysan province on October 8, 2022. (Asaad NIAZI / AFP)
A youth walks on cracked and dried up soil at the Hawizeh marshes, which straddle Iraq's border with Iran, in the southeastern Maysan province on October 8, 2022. (Asaad NIAZI / AFP)

Israel is planning to send a 1,000-strong delegation to this year’s annual United Nations COP28 climate conference — its largest to date — headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog, the Foreign Ministry announced Monday.

More than 100 companies, including 30 start-ups, will join seven to eight ministers, officials from various ministries, academics, investors, businesspeople, and environmental groups, at the confab, set to take place between November 30 and December 12 at Dubai’s Expo complex.

Herzog and Netanyahu are slated to participate in the leaders’ summit from December 1 to 2.

Israel intends to hold around 70 events — nearly double the number put on during last year’s COP27 event in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.

The Israel Export Institute will also be leading a delegation, as it did in 2022.

One in seven new Israeli startups is now dealing with climate technology, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said, and Israel wanted to share its knowledge with the world and leverage it to form regional partnerships.

Cohen spoke at the opening of a meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem to prepare for COP28.

The first meeting of its kind, it was attended by 250 people from a wide spectrum of climate-related sectors.

The UAE is hoping to attract 80,000 visitors from 198 countries.

Last year’s COP event saw Israel creating its first pavilion.

Located in a prominent and central position among other countries’ pavilions, it showcased 10 groundbreaking climate tech companies and held dozens of lectures and meetings.

Israel’s pavilion at the UN COP27 climate conference showcased Israeli climate technology, Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, November 9, 2022. (Sue Surkes/Times of Israel)

In Egypt, the pavilions were set out in large hangars.

In Dubai, by contrast, they will be created in much smaller, uniform buildings, with four to five countries grouped together in each.

The content will not be visible from the outside, challenging each delegation to find creative ways to lure conferencegoers inside.

Before participants at Monday’s meeting split up around tables to discuss what Israel could offer at COP28, Gideon Behar, Israel’s special envoy on climate change, said the emphasis should be on presentations that could kickstart partnerships with other countries and lead to joint initiatives.

The Foreign Ministry’s digital diplomacy czar, David Saranga, said he would hold a workshop on presentation for participants in the run-up to the confab.

Signatories to the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement will take part in a global stocktake to assess collective progress toward meeting the agreement’s goals.

These include slashing global warming emissions to keep average temperature increases to well below 2°C (3.6°F) and preferably 1.5°C (2.7°F), compared with pre-industrial times, and financing the steps needed to tackle climate change.

The stocktake is meant to encourage countries and businesses to set more ambitious climate targets.

Army troops evacuate people from a flood-hit area in Rajanpur, district of Punjab, Pakistan, August 27, 2022. (Asim Tanveer/AP)

Research, however, shows that planet-wide warming could exceed 1.5° in the coming decade and could even breach 2°C by the middle of the century.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that exceeding 1.5° will cause severe and even irreversible damage to the planet.

COP28 will continue to address the issue of loss and damage compensation for developing countries that are suffering the brunt of climate-related disasters such as sea-level rise, drought, and floods.

In 2009, those wealthy nations, including Israel, promised to provide $100 billion a year up to 2020 (subsequently extended to 2025) — a target that has not been reached and is even supposed to increase.

The confab will also try to set goals for adapting to the consequences of climate change and will discuss ways to ensure that the transition to more sustainable economies doesn’t leave anyone behind.

FILE – Mohamed Mohamud, a ranger from the Sabuli Wildlife Conservancy, looks at the carcass of a giraffe that died of hunger near Matana Village, Wajir County, Kenya on October 25, 2021. The frequency and duration of droughts will continue to increase due to human-caused climate change, with water scarcity already affecting billions of people across the world, the United Nations warned in a report Wednesday, May 11, 2022. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga, File)

Environmental Protection Minister Idit Silman told Monday’s meeting that she hoped Israel would have a climate law to take to COP28.

The government pledged in its coalition agreement to pass a climate law that would commit it to cutting global warming emissions by 50 percent by 2030. That raised the bar from 27% included in a climate bill that passed its Knesset first reading in July last year under the previous government’s environmental protection minister, Tamar Zandberg.

But progress has been stymied repeatedly as the finance and energy ministries persist in their demands for emission reduction targets to be non-binding and the Environmental Protection Ministry insists they must be to have any value.

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