Climate change represents an existential threat to our planet. Earth's average temperature has risen by about 1.1 degrees Celsius since the industrial revolution. Heatwaves, droughts, floods, superstorms, and apocalyptic wildfires are occurring at an ever-growing pace, piling up astronomic losses and dire predictions for ecosystems, health, and food and water supplies.
A flagship 2022 report warns that global greenhouse emissions must be reduced by 43% within eight years to limit Earth's warming to 1.5°C (2.7° F). Beyond this target, our planet's climate is expected to spiral out of control. "It's now or never," scientists say, adding that without "immediate and deep emission reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible."
Israel and other Middle Eastern and North African countries (the MENA region) represent a global warming hotspot, where temperatures are warming at twice the global average.
Our start-up nation features many companies tackling climate change, including renewable energy production and storage. Israel must become a solar superpower, offering cleaner, safer, and more economical energy solutions. Benefits to Israel would dramatically surpass profits from our fossil fuel resources.
Dr. Shira Efron, senior researcher at Israel's Institute for National Security Studies (INSS): "Climate changes in the Middle East will directly affect Israel's national security."
Dr. Mike Adel, IHG air pollution team: "Israel has a significant part of its economy invested in methane… we need to take action now."
KEY POINTS ABOUT THE CLIMATE CRISIS & ITS RELEVANCE TO ISRAEL
1. It's about greenhouse gases & us
Greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), trap heat from the sun like the glass roof of a greenhouse (hence their name). Today's climate emergency results from skyrocketing greenhouse gas levels driven by human activities, mainly the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, and agriculture.
Before the industrial revolution, Earth's atmosphere typically had about 280 parts per million of carbon dioxide (meaning the ratio of CO2 to all other molecules). These are the conditions to which life on Earth is adapted. However, CO2 levels are currently well over 400 parts per million, and we're adding roughly 2ppm per year. Levels exceeding 350 ppm will disrupt Earth's 1,000,000 years of relative climate stability.
2. We're trapping heat
Earth's average temperature has risen by about 1.1°C over the last 120 years. Scientists warn that Earth's climate will spiral out of control unless global warming remains within 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
Global warming is already severely impacting our polar caps. Arctic sea ice is melting at a rate of almost 13% per decade, sea levels are rising, and coastal areas are increasingly threatened. Moreover, Arctic ice and permanently frozen areas (permafrost), store huge amounts of methane. As these areas melt, more methane is released, which in turn amplifies melting. This domino effect could bring about the worst climate change predictions.
3. It's not a debate
The daily emissions of greenhouse gases currently trap as much heat as would be released by roughly 600,000 Hiroshima-class atomic bombs.
Fossil fuel lobbyists have traditionally claimed that global warming is part of Earth's natural cycle of warming and cooling. This is untrue. Our planet has always had cyclical warming and cooling, driven in part by variations in its orbit around the sun. But none resembled current patterns. Research, including in Science, shows that Earth has warmed faster over the past century than at any time since the end of the last ice age. This has occurred even though Earth has been in a natural cooling period in terms of its relative position to the sun. Additionally, the last seven years have been the warmest on record (including nearly 50°C scorchers in Canada).
The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows changes in Earth’s climate worldwide. Many of these changes are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years.
4. Gas is not green
Gas was initially perceived as a "bridge fuel" between coal and a zero-carbon future because its primary component, methane, emits less than half the CO2 of coal when burned. But research has shown that methane emissions trap over 80 times more heat than CO2 during the first 20 years. Moreover, large amounts of methane leak during gas extraction, production, and piping.
5. Israel is in the thick of it
Israel and other Middle Eastern and North African countries represent a climate change hotspot where temperatures are warming at twice the global average. Regional climate changes could trigger water and food shortages, massive migration, and border tensions. Unlike Israel, many Middle Eastern countries lack water desalination facilities, and some already face urgent shortages.
Select Middle East Climate Change Facts
- The World Bank estimates that by 2025 alone, 80 -100 million people in the region will experience water stress.
- Israel's military recently recognized climate change as a strategic threat, noting that it will have to fortify the country's borders.
- Unless global warming is controlled, certain Middles Eastern regions will experience over 200 days a year of up to 50-degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit), rendering them uninhabitable.
- The Mediterranean Sea is heating 20% faster than the world's oceans, drastically impacting biodiversity.
- Israeli farmers suffered millions in losses due to climate change in 2021 alone, leading to major shortages in certain summer crops. These losses are part of a long-term trend. Records show a 45% jump in weather-related agricultural damages compared with the previous five years alone.
Israel Lags Behind
Many countries have internalized the dire threats posed by climate change and are transitioning to renewables. This includes Norway, which in 2019 decided to walk away from billions of gallons of oil and natural gas. Academic institutions and private investors worldwide are also opting out of fossil fuel investments.
Unfortunately, Israel continues to invest heavily in fossil fuels, with plans for additional gas-fired facilities nationwide and oil and gas exploration.
Fossil Fuel Policies - Outdated and Unsustainable
Solar energy is now substantially cheaper than gas. It is also increasingly accompanied by new "big battery" storage technologies that solve the longstanding key challenge for green energy – the intermittency of wind and sunlight.
Our startup nation features many companies tackling climate change, including renewable energy production and storage. Israel must become a solar superpower, offering cleaner, safer, and more economical energy solutions.
6. We can fix it
Climate change is arguably humanity’s biggest challenge ever. And we have less than a decade to act.
Recent studies show that the world will need to leave 60% percent of its oil and gas in the ground and 90% of its coal to keep within a 50% chance of a 1.5°C increase.
But there’s reason for hope.
Renewable energy production and storage costs have dropped dramatically, paralleled by increased usage. Renewables currently generate almost 30% of the world’s energy. Global electric vehicle sales increased by over 40% in 2020. And governments worldwide are increasingly committing to slashing emissions by 2030, some by 50%. Israel has also committed to slashing 27% of its emissions by 2030, though critics call for a 45% reduction.
Which is where YOU come in! Please consider acting NOW to help transition Israel and the world to low carbon economies.
Please help transition Israel to life-saving clean energy
Please help transition Israel to life-saving clean energy
- Watch: Breaking Boundaries: The Science Of Our Planet, David Attenborough and Johan Rockström, 2021
- The State of the Globl Climate 2021, World Meteorological Organization
- Climate change widespread, rapid and intensifying. IPCC 2021
- Climate Change: Arctic sea ice summer minimum, NOAA, 2020
- World scientists' warning of a climate emergency, Bioscience, September 2021
- Climate tipping points, too risky to bet against. Nature, November 2019
- Special Report on the Ocean and Cryoshpere in a Changing Climate, IPCC 2019
- Letter (in Hebrew) to Energy Ministry by over 100 scientists including Nobel and Israel Prize winners urging Israel's rapid transition to renewables.
- English article detailing the key points of the above letter.
- The need for deeds: A call for proactivism in Israel's climate policy (Adi Wolfson, Ofira Ayalon and Yoni Sappir) in Climate Change and Sustainable Development (Susanne Luther), 19.12.2021
- IHG report to Israel's Electric Authority urging the transition to 80% renewables by 2030 instead of the only 30% proposed (In Hebrew).
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2018). Global Warming of 1.5C. Summary for Policymakers.
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (2021). The Physical Science Basis.
- Three decades of climate mitigation: Why haven't we bent the global emissions? Annual Review of Environment and Resources, Volume 46, 2021
- Provisional statement on the status of the global climate in 2020. World Meteorological Organization (2021)
- Sand and Dust Storms in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The World Bank, Fall 2019