Israel's Bennett Vows Action on Climate Crisis as Floods Ravage Germany

While Bennett is raising the alarm following deadly floods in Western Europe, experts and activists have long warned that Israel is unprepared for the climate crisis

Lee Yaron
Lee Yaron
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Naftali Bennett at the Knesset last week.
Naftali Bennett at the Knesset last week.Credit: Emil Salman
Lee Yaron
Lee Yaron

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett promised Monday that Israel will take action in the near future on the climate crisis, as recent floods in Western Europe claimed dozens of lives and heatwaves in North America killed hundreds.

"The issue of the climate crisis is a global problem," Bennett said at the end of a cabinet meeting. He added that Israel is preparing to help the affected countries, which include Germany, France, Switzerland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.  

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Despite Bennett's statements that Israel is treating the climate crisis as a significant threat, government professionals, independent experts, environmental activists and others have long warned that Israel is not well-prepared. Environmental protections agencies and scientific facilities are underfunded and underequipped, damaging Israel's readiness in the face of extreme weather situations.  

Minister of Environmental Protection Tamar Zandberg urged Bennett to declare the climate crisis a state of emergency and a strategic threat to the State of Israel, and to include an ambitious and long-term plan in the upcoming budget to reduce greenhouse emissions.

Damage following the floods in Western Germany yesterday.Credit: Thilo Schmuelgen / Reuters

"There is a broad consensus among scientists and climate experts that these events are only the beginning of what lies ahead," Zandberg said. "We must urgently prepare for the effects of climate change in order to protect human life first and foremost, but also our quality of life and the environment in which we live."

Though previous governments have promised to bolster Israel's preparedness for the climate crisis and even passed resolutions allocating funds for this purpose, many of these decisions were not implemented. Commenting on Israel's readiness for future climate disasters, former chief of Staff Gadi Izenkot warned recently that Israel has no "organizational response and strategy to a climate-related catastrophe."

Israel does not have a reliable forecast for the changes created by the climate crisis within its borders because the government did not provide the Meteorological Service with the computing power required to carry out the forecasts. The decision to purchase the systems needed to produce detailed forecasts – which cost about 20 million shekels – was made by the government three years ago, but was never implemented.

In regard to transitioning to renewable energies, the previous government adopted the position of the Ministry of Energy according to which by 2030, 30 percent of Israel's electricity consumption will come from renewable energies, whereas the Ministry of Environmental Protection sought to set the target at 40 percent.

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