PM set to lead Israeli delegation to UN climate talks in Glasgow

Bennett expected to attend conference of global leaders at the end of the month, along with Environment Minister Tamar Zandberg and Energy Minister Karine Elharrar

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the Makor Rishon Conference, October 11, 2021 (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the Makor Rishon Conference, October 11, 2021 (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is expected to lead Israel’s delegation to the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow at the end of the month, a source close to the premier has said.

Environment Minister Tamar Zandberg and Energy Minister Karine Elharrar are also set to attend.

When asked for confirmation, a spokesperson for the premier said that the trip had not yet been finalized.

The conference is set to take place October 31-November 12, with world leaders expected to attend the first two days, including US President Joe Biden and the UK’s Queen Elizabeth II.

Bennett was invited to attend by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson when the two spoke in July shortly after the formation of Israel’s government.

Bennett’s trip is slated to take place as the government arrives at the final stretch to pass the state budget ahead of a November 14 deadline.

Failure to approve the funds for 2021-2022 by that date would automatically dissolve parliament and trigger elections. The budget includes, for the first time, a special allocation to fight climate change.

(R) Environment Minister Tamar Zandberg and (L) Energy Minister Karin Elharrar (Flash90)

But the prime minister likely does not want a repeat of the UN General Assembly last month, when he attended in the final days after nearly all world leaders had already gone home.

Bennett noticeably made no mention of climate change when he addressed the assembly.

Though some members of his coalition want a drastic response to climate change that includes emergency laws, Bennett himself seems to favor a pragmatic approach that takes into account the need to balance the economy, cost of living, personal freedom and defense.

He believes that Israel’s economy is too small to have any major impact on the climate, a senior official said at the time, but views Israel’s technology and innovation as potentially helping point the world in the right direction.

The UN’s 26th Climate Change Conference of the Parties, known as the COP26, will see governments try to thrash out further commitments to limit the warming of the Earth to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius as laid out in the 2015 Paris climate accord.

Unrecognized Bedouin villages around the Ramat Hovav industrial area in southern Israel suffer from a high level of air pollution from nearby chemical evaporation ponds and an Israel Electric Corporation power plant. December 28, 2017. (Yaniv Nadav/FLASH90)

However, environmentalists worry that the meeting will produce policies that don’t do enough to slash carbon emissions and slow the warming of the planet.

The event also is focused on mobilizing financing to fight climate change and protecting vulnerable communities and natural habitats.

Earth’s climate is getting so hot that temperatures in a decade will probably blow past a level of warming that world leaders have sought to prevent, according to a report released in August that the United Nations called a “code red for humanity.”

The authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which called climate change “unequivocally caused by human activity,” made more precise and warmer forecasts for the 21st century than it did last time it was issued in 2013.

In the wake of the report, Environment Minister Zandberg said it demonstrated that Israel must declare climate change as a “strategic threat” in order to properly prepare for the challenges it poses to the country.

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