Israeli Environment Minister Tamar Zandberg tells pre-COP26 meeting that climate change is ‘the greatest challenge of our generation’

Israeli Minister of Environmental Protection Tamar Zandberg today told a joint Board of Deputies/EcoSynagogue meeting that climate change was “the greatest challenge of our generation”, adding that Israel could contribute a huge amount by developing technologies to counter the problem.

Ms Zandberg, who was in conversation with EcoSynagogue Founder and Co-Chair Rabbi David Mason at the pre-COP26 event, said:  “The environment is the greatest challenge of our generation. It’s happening here and now. The importance and urgency of climate is sharpening now and is more urgent every month.”

However, she stated that Israel was in the forefront of developing new technologies to counter the crisis. “We are already world leaders in several technologies – in desalination, energy storage and alternative proteins for example. We are investing heavily and Prime Minster Bennett is pushing us to put more focus on this. The countries of the Middle East share one climate  which means we have a common interest in developing technologies together and this can also help in conflict resolution in the area.”

She added: “In terms of water conservation, waste disposal and other matters we have been talking to the Palestinian leadership. We can do good for our respective societies on the ground without even discussing the politics of the situation.”

On COP26, she said: “The world is united about the notion that COP26 is the last chance for the world to stop from crossing the 1.5 degree threshold. We are striving for net zero by 2050. Our current target is an 85 per cent carbon reduction by 2050 but we would like to increase that target to zero. We hope that the Prime Minister will commit to taking that step. Although our parties Meretz and Yamina are divided on many issues we are united on this one.”

Ms Zandberg, who describes herself as a vegan “for environmental reasons”, said that despite being a Government minister, she remained an activist. “Some activists have the privilege to serve in an elected position. I see myself  a messenger. I will do everything in my power to bring that message to Government.”

In his introduction to the event, Board of Deputies Chief Executive Michael Wegier said: “The Board of Deputies supports Israel and we express British Jews’ special bond with Israel. By holding conversations like this one with the Minister today, we can deepen and broaden that relationship which means so much to our community. Another communal priority that this event ties into is, of course, climate change. As we approach the start of the COP26 Climate Conference, it feels like the world is finally – maybe – waking up to the urgent reality of a climate emergency. We hope this afternoon contributes to the global conversation that is being had on this vital issue.”

In his closing  remarks, EcoSynagogue Co-Chair Rabbi Mark Goldsmith thanked Tamar Zandberg for contributing to the climate change debate.

You can watch the full event here.

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