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Bill Gates to Bennett: Israeli innovation can help tackle climate change

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (right) meets with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates on the sidelines of the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow, on November 2, 2021. (Haim Zach/GPO)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (right) meets with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates on the sidelines of the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow, on November 2, 2021. (Haim Zach/GPO)

GLASGOW — Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates on the sidelines of the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow.

The pair agree to establish a working group between the State of Israel and the Gates Foundation in the area of climate change innovation.

“Israel is known as the startup nation, and I think that it’s time we pivot and channel our national energy — which is the energy of the people, the brainpower — to fighting climate change,” Bennett tells Gates during their meeting. “We’re going to take this as a national mission.”

Bennett says that Israel is cooperating with many of its neighbors on climate-related issues, particular in the field of water scarcity.

Gates tells the Israeli premier that “my big belief is that we can solve climate change if we accelerate innovation.”

Speaking about innovation, Gates says: “That’s really what Israel is known for, but not so much in the climate space.” The key, he says, will be “understanding where are the brilliant people in Israel who are thinking about these new techniques.”

“We were thinking: How do we connect up and find more people who are doing mitigation type innovation, more people doing adaptation?” Gates asks. “Given the talent that you have and what we’ve seen in the digital space, how do we unleash more of that? So I’d love to take that R&D innovation push and figure out where Israel can partner with us.”

Energy Minister Karine Elharrar adds: “Israel can be a very strong power in the climate change fight, and I think a joint venture is really great news for that.”

Gates notes that both he and Bennett — who made millions in hi-tech before entering politics — realized that “innovation was the key” in their first careers. “Love that comparison,” jokes Bennett, to laughter.

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