Many of those who planned on participating at COP28 joined their compatriots and went to serve in the IDF to protect their country. But for other Israelis, COP28 was simply not a safe place to be.
Perhaps not surprising but a shame nonetheless, the war raging in Israel and Gaza, thanks to the Hamas atrocities perpetrated on October 7, has stopped Israel from fully showcasing hundreds of its climate change companies and new innovative technologies at COP28, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, which kicked off at the end of last month in the United Arab Emirates and has just ended.
There are few nations in the world that can contribute so significantly to the global conversation on climate action as Israel. The nation has positioned itself as a valuable ally in the global fight against the environmental crisis. According to Startup Nation Central, there are over 850 Israeli companies dealing with climate solutions ranging from energy transition, carbon tech, transportation and logistics, clean tech, food security and land use, water solutions, and more.
But Israel was an unwelcome participant in Dubai.
How Hamas’s massacre made Israel unwelcome in Dubai for COP28
Israel’s President Isaac Herzog, who has made the need to find solutions for the climate crisis a major policy initiative during his term in office, attended the opening days of the summit. However, in yet another of many slights directed toward Israel on the world stage and in the context of UN fora, he did not speak, probably because he would not be welcomed by the international audience made up of countries that are increasingly hostile toward the Jewish state.
Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs was slated to bring a massive delegation to Dubai. Over 1,000 of Israel’s best minds from the public and business sectors, academia, and civil society were involved in planning for potential collaborations around the world. They hoped to join 80,000 people from 198 countries who attended the event. For certain, many of those who planned on participating at COP28 joined their compatriots and went to serve in the IDF to protect their country. But for other Israelis, COP28 was simply not a safe place to be.
THE ECONOMY MINISTRY was expected to lead the selection of 30 companies to present their ideas in the Israeli pavilion, which was to be marketed under the tagline “Climate of Innovation.” More than 100 companies were slated to travel to Dubai with the Israel Export Institute and participate in meetings and side events.
And throughout the two-week conference, Israel was scheduled to participate in many of the 70 events supported by a substantial public relations push, with the goal of highlighting the very best “blue and white” solutions to the climate challenge we all face.
World leaders like Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa bashed Israel during their opening speeches. Iran’s President was a no-show at the event due to Israel’s tiny delegation (28 in all) and the attending Iranian delegates’ leader walked out during the opening ceremony due to the 28 Israelis who represented Israel under very tight security.
The year 2023 is slated to be the hottest year on record but COP28 delegates spent significant amounts of time and energy castigating Israel. Demonstrations, speeches, and discussions calling for Israel to end the war against Hamas terrorists were the order of the day.
Israel and its neighbors, located in a regional climate hotspot, have much at stake in the climate discussion. Warming in the region is occurring at a 20% faster rate than the global average.
Israeli climate technology companies and Israel-based NGOs, such as EcoPeace and the Arava Institute, which work for peace through environmental cooperation, will hopefully continue to thrive to make the planet and our region a safer place for all to live. Unfortunately, the UN’s COP28 proved to be a wasted, if not dangerous, missed opportunity.