World leaders and their delegations started negotiations at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow yesterday. After decades of failure, they will try to persuade the public of their commitment to solving the greatest crisis humankind has ever faced.
Many years have been wasted on nothing, on declarations about reducing emissions while the hoped-for change remains beyond us, and the climate change crisis rumbles on unimpeded. This the last call for the politicians to wake up, but in Scotland, the alarm bells have yet to ring. On the basis of the countries' current commitments, the world is marching towards a catastrophic warming of 2.7 degrees on average compared with pre-industrial levels, and that is if the feeble promises are kept.
At present, it looks as though the leaders are mainly trying to kick the can down the road, to the coming decades, to the coming generations, instead of fighting this decade. To limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, the target recommended by expert reports and agreed by the G20 group of countries before the Glasgow conference, the world's nations have to set very ambitious goals for the current decade, and not look with a vacant gaze to 2050, abdicating responsibility.
The climate crisis is already leaving its mark on economies and people's lives. Unless the world's leaders succeed in cutting greenhouse gas emissions by half in the current decade, on the way to absolute zero, many more will pay with their lives, and extreme climate events will become the new norm, in a world in which nothing will any longer be normal.
What about Israel? Prime Minister Naftali Bennett flew to the UN conference with no achievements to show, and no new tidings. Just before he flew off, Bennett paid his "Glasgow tax" and declared, perhaps with no choice, that Israel would reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. That's a sort of entry ticket to the climate conference; countries responsible for 70% of total global emissions are waving it.
But Israel has no plan for reaching this target, which has not been approved by the government, and reading the declaration invites a close and gloomy look at the small print. In order to reach net-zero emissions (that is, to mop up in various ways more gases than are emitted), Israel will rely on developing carbon capture capabilities. No such technologies currently exist, and trials carried out by the fossil fuels companies that are driving the climate crisis have failed.
While the horizon is 2050 and assumes currently non-existent technology, the present is neglected, and the bitter truth is forgotten: Israel, like the rest of the world, needs huge efforts to halve emissions now, using existing means. This involves a massive switch to renewable energy sources and to sustainable transport, and a halt to deforestation and rehabilitation of the natural systems that absorb a substantial proportion of our emissions.
In the next two weeks, it would be preferable if no politician were to seek applause from the public or the media, but rather internalize the fact that the good start stage was over long ago. This is the time to mark the endpoint of the crisis, and to leave the public with genuine actions, not accounting exercises, unknown technologies, and press releases, here, there, and everywhere.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on November 2, 2021.
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