Opinion: Israel’s Climate Change Innovations and Urgent Plans for Saving Planet Earth

FILES: This photo taken on October 13, 2020 shows a boat driving past an area hit by the 2016 wildfires in a protected area in Prek Toal floating village in Battambang province. (Photo: AFP)

Greater solidarity is needed to combat the imminent climate crisis and Israeli technology may offer greater climate resilience to Cambodia, particularly among the agricultural sector

Even those of us not particularly cognizant of the climate crisis could not help but be alarmed by what has been happening around us lately. Devastating flood and drought events that have been a common occurrence in the Tonle Sap and Mekong River are expected to become more frequent and intense. Natural disasters around the world got worse in recent years; wildfires have been roaring in Australia, California, France, Israel and many other countries, while massive floods in China, Germany and Western Europe claimed hundreds of lives. These catastrophic events are escalating exponentially all around the world.

Disasters as such, in Cambodia, Israel and around the world, not only serve as serious warning signs but also highlight the urgency to transition to a lifestyle and economy that supports—rather than disrupts—planet Earth’s climate, nature, and environment.

Regardless of its small size, Israel has taken a significant step towards tackling this global challenge. In July 2021, Israel joined dozens of other countries that have already decided on a strategy for a carbon neutral economy. The Israeli government announced a newly-approved national goal to reduce carbon emissions by at least 85 percent by 2050. The decision also sets an intermediate target of a 27 percent reduction in emissions by 2030.

In order to achieve these goals, Israel has initiated several steps such as investments in purchasing electric buses, promoting charging stations, investing in reducing carbon emissions in industry, businesses, local authorities and more. Furthermore, Israel’s climate innovation for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions provides some of the most fascinating solutions in the world in the fields of compressed-air energy storage, energy generation from sea waves, and the use of advanced computing tools for energy management.

Similarly, the Cambodian government identified the impacts of climate change upon human lives and initiated The Climate Change Action Plan (2016–2018) of the Royal Government of Cambodia. The plan identified agriculture as one of the most climate-sensitive sectors in the country and committed to cutting Greenhouse gas emissions by 41 percent by 2030.

With this mutual vision, Israel and Cambodia certainly have a lot to share and contribute to each other’s needed adaptations, for the fight against climate crisis requires collective efforts.

Israel is also known for its technological advancement and innovation in the areas of water, agriculture and food security. Be it the advanced desalination plants, invention of a machine that extracts water from air or the seemingly impossible ability to make the desert bloom. Among the latest breakthroughs is the development in the field of animal protein substitutes. Products such as meat, milk, and eggs are being produced in laboratories using methods that emit nearly zero 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. As if this is not enough, these technologies are also paving the way for increased global food security affected by an era of the climate crisis.

For some countries, including Cambodia, an adoption of Israeli innovations may benefit both the environment and the people. Naturally, the rapidly emerging effects of the climate crisis have had great impacts on Cambodia’s agricultural sector. As such, Israeli precision agricultural technologies, from drip irrigation to sensors indicating exactly when plants need to be watered, may be the ultimate solution to more efficient and sustainable farming, as well as a course to better the lives of affected Cambodian farmers.

Now more than ever, it is undeniably necessary for the world to unite and battle the climate crisis, shoulder to shoulder. The only way to do this is by working together, sharing information and experience, and providing mutual support. Though the brutal truth is that the world is running out of time, we cannot afford to lose hope. Israel is proud to work on its part by taking mandatory actions and, as always, collaborate with peer countries by sharing its expertise and experience.

Orna Sagiv is Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the Embassy of Israel to Cambodia, and Thailand

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