President: Israel should ‘rush’ to set climate targets, meet them

Receiving ‘Change of Direction 2020′ plan started by ex-MK Khenin, Reuven Rivlin says ‘no reason’ why Israel shouldn’t be world ‘beacon of excellence’ in sustainability.

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter

President Reuven Rivlin speaks during a climate conference in Tel Aviv on November 24, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
President Reuven Rivlin speaks during a climate conference in Tel Aviv on November 24, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday said Israel should set clear climate goals and race to meet those targets, becoming a “beacon of excellence” of sustainability for the world.

Climate change is “no longer a niche subject just for nature-lovers,” said Rivlin.

“There is no reason why Israel, which proved a long time ago that it is a powerhouse in innovative technology, should not be a beacon of excellence for the whole world in the field of sustainability,” he added.

Speaking at the President’s Residence after receiving a plan called “Change of Direction 2020″ initiated by former MK Dov Khenin, Rivlin went on: “Sustainability and fighting climate change is an issue which, for good reason, has support across the political spectrum. This is an area which aims to improve quality of life for everyone. It is no coincidence that the goals in the field of sustainability that appear in your report overlap, to a great extent, with the goals we aim for in society,”

“A greener future is a rosier future and a more equal future for everyone. We need to start working on it today, setting achievable and clear targets and rushing to meet them,” he said.

Change of Direction 2020 looks at ways to reduce and absorb climate-warming emissions. Its proposals include a rapid conversion to renewable energy provided via a dispersed grid to cut pollution and reduce the security risks of isolated natural gas rigs; incentives for public transportation, pedestrians and bicycles; a move to sustainable agriculture that produces less greenhouse gases and healthier food, less animal-based products and food waste; and urban regeneration that provides green, human-friendly spaces that encourage walkers and bikers with trees, shade and mixed-use environmentally friendly construction.

Dov Khenin, formerly an MK with the Joint List, seen during a committee meeting at the Knesset, December 2, 2015. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

“Climate change creates a genuine emergency, around the world and in Israel,” Khenin said. “But the scientists tell us that there is still a window of opportunity for change. Israel must and can contribute to the global effort, among other things, in the field of technological innovation and creative social solutions. These changes can also improve our daily lives, here and now.”

Participants at the meeting included Director-General of the Ministry of Energy Udi Adiri, Chairman of the National Housing Council Ze’ev Bielski, Director of the National Planning Directorate Dalit Zilber, representatives from national and local government, including Chairman of the Coastal Local Authorities’ Forum Moshe Fadlon and Mayor of Sahknin Safwat Abu Raya, representatives of academia, the students’ union, youth movements and environmental and civil society organizations. All of the bodies represented participated in writing the plan.

Most Popular
read more: