Bennett, the Climate Crisis Is Already Here. It's Time to Act

Haaretz Editorial
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People run away from the fire-devastated Sirtkoy village, near Manavgat, Antalya, Turkey, Sunday, August 1, 2021.
People run away from the fire-devastated Sirtkoy village, near Manavgat, Antalya, Turkey, Sunday, August 1, 2021.Credit: AP Photo, File
Haaretz Editorial

The report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released Monday, states that even under the rosiest scenario for the reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions, humanity will be unable to prevent global warming beyond the 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) average rise that world leaders promised to avoid in the agreement reached in Paris in 2015.

This important report, written by 234 scientists from 66 countries, says the planet has already warmed 1.1 degrees since the late 19th century. It also states that even in a scenario of determined and rapid reduction of emissions, global temperatures are expected to reach or exceed 1.5 degrees on average over the next 20 years.

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We’re no longer talking about the next generation that will suffer from the climate crisis, but rather the near future. Scientists say it’s still possible to avoid a 2-degree rise, the upper threshold of warming that countries have pledged not to reach. This is a horror scenario, in which heat waves, droughts and floods “would more often reach critical tolerance thresholds for agriculture and health,” the report says. However, without swift and determined action over the next nine years, this rise will take place between 2041 and 2060.

The previous IPCC report stated as highly likely that humans are a dominant factor in global warming, while the current report states that human impact is “unequivocally” the cause of the warming of the atmosphere, land and sea. In 2019, concentrations of carbon dioxide levels were higher than at any other time in the last 2 million years.

The clear scientific facts dictate two essential steps for any country that seeks life for its people. The first is preparedness. But although the rate of warming in Israel is almost double the global average, the state has not even started to prepare for severe climate changes. There are no real solutions for the heat waves, floods and fires that could befall Israel.

And so if Prime Minister Naftali Bennett wants to brand himself as a leader who clearly understands the correct priorities, even before the passing of the Economic Arrangements Bill accompanying the national budget he should order significant funding for the orphaned Climate Administration in the Environmental Protection Ministry.

The second step is to do everything necessary to immediately move to renewable energy sources and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in order to prevent even more egregious climate crisis scenarios. If in Europe the rate of renewable energy use is almost 50 percent, clearly sun-drenched Israel can meet this objective. After many decades of turning a blind eye to the warnings, the time has come to act.

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

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