Even those of us not particularly aware of the climate crisis cannot help but be alarmed by what has been happening around us lately. While massive floods in Germany and Western Europe claimed the lives of hundreds, entire villages in India were washed away by monsoon rains. Giant hailstones rained down on Italy in the middle of summer, and Britain and Switzerland were surprised by sudden wild and rainy weather. Sardinia, Greece, Turkey, Australia, US and Siberia were hit by widespread fires. In California and Canada, temperatures reached unthinkable records of above 50 degrees Celsius. The average global temperature rise in 2021 is projected to be about 1.2 degrees Celsius above that of the pre-industrial period. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2021 analysis shows that the window of opportunity to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid the worst impacts of climate change is closing.
The report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a warning for us. We must transition to a lifestyle and economy that supports — not disrupts — the planet’s climate, nature and environment.
Change, however, is difficult, and we need success stories, peer learning, and technologies that will help us move to a zero-emissions economy by 2050 and halve humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. In India, the Himalayan glaciers, the source of major rivers and aquifers supplying water to hundreds of millions of Indians, are disappearing at an alarming rate. Climate change will increase the risks in low-lying coastal zones due to cyclones and coastal and inland flooding, storm surges and sea-level rise, threatening communities along the Indian coastline.
The increased frequency of extreme events such as floods and droughts will have a severe impact on India’s agriculture and water resources, food security and the prosperity of rural communities. Economic development has been a policy priority for India in the last decades — as it lifts millions of people out of poverty while creating larger demands for goods and services, and increasing the demand for energy across all sectors. India has made enormous investments in renewable energy sources, to increase the use of solar, wind, biomass, waste, and hydropower energies. But there are still enormous challenges in meeting Indian demands for energy, food, and water in a sustainable way.
Israel has lessons to share. Over decades, Israel has learned to establish agriculture in the desert and arid areas, to recycle 90 per cent of its wastewater, and to desalinate drinking water. It has developed solutions for energy storage, energy efficiency, and renewable energy; it has cultivated a groundbreaking industry of animal protein substitutes, and knows how to preserve forests in conditions of drought and aridity. Israel is a laboratory for the development of practical solutions to the climate crisis.
Take, for example, the developments in research institutes and the private sector in Israel in the field of animal protein substitutes. Products such as poultry, milk, eggs and more are being produced in laboratories using methods that emit almost no greenhouse gases, and which allow huge swathes of agricultural land currently being used for livestock purposes to be freed up for ecological restoration and reforestation.
Israel’s climate innovation also provides solutions in the fields of compressed-air energy storage, energy generation from sea waves, the use of advanced computing tools for energy management, and more.
It is clear to everyone today that there is not one single country, strong and developed as it may be, that can cope with this unprecedented crisis alone. We need to harness all of humanity’s abilities in order to steer the planet towards a safe shore. The only way to do this is by working together, sharing information and experience, and providing mutual support. Israel and India can lead the way to establish state-of-the-art solutions for the developing world in order to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
This column first appeared in the print edition on September 2, 2021 under the title ‘Climate solutions’. Clein is charge d’affaires and Assaf is water attache at the Embassy of Israel