Bennett, There’s an Emergency Ahead

Haaretz Editorial
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Oil refineries in the Haifa Bay area.
Haaretz Editorial

In 10 days’ time, the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference will open in Glasgow, Scotland. It is an event of supreme importance: Presidents, prime ministers and cabinet members from 197 states will gather there, out of a recognition that if new agreements are not reached to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent over the next eight years, humanity will not be able to prevent global warming beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) and the severe disasters accompanying it.

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Due to the exponential nature of the climate crisis, similar to the coronavirus crisis, even if politicians will desperately want to take extreme actions in the coming years to prevent the climatic extremes that are likely to attack us, their actions will no longer be able to prevent deadly heat waves, floods, hurricanes, fires, droughts and rising sea levels, but only will succeed in reducing them to a much smaller extent than is possible today.

But in Israel, which is expected to suffer from the effects of the climate crisis at a higher intensity and speed than the global average – the country has already warmed by 1.4 degrees Celsius since 1950, compared to a global rise of 1.1 degrees since 1850 – the so-called change government, which pledged in its basic guidelines to act on the climate crisis, still slumbers. Only last week did Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announce that he will attend the conference.

Meanwhile, the critical plans of Tamar Zandberg and the Environmental Protection Ministry that she heads to declare a climate emergency is not expected to be approved before her trip to Glasgow. This is due to disagreements with Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Energy Minister Karine Elharrar, who oppose the current version of the plans, although both have issued several statements in the past affirming their commitment to tackling the climate crisis.

Dozens of countries have already declared climate emergencies and pledged to reach net zero emissions, but Israel is taking its time and has not yet decided whether the climate crisis is an emergency. If Bennett does not want to embarrass himself on the UN stage, he must instruct the finance and energy ministries to retract their opposition, support Zandberg and pass a law declaring a national climate emergency at the next cabinet meeting.

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

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