Opinion: Israel’s Urgent Plans for Saving Planet Earth Through Innovation

Photo supplied by the Israeli Embassy in Bangkok

By Orna Sagiv, Chargé d’Affaires a.i.
Embassy of Israel in Bangkok

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.

A decade ago, Thailand faced the 2011 Great Flood, the worst flood crisis in seven decades, inundating several parts of Bangkok and other provinces. Fast forward to 2019, the country suffered its worst drought in 40 years, despite being in the monsoon season.

Nonetheless, forest fires engulfing the Northern Thailand only get worse in the recent years. Around the world, 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, both in Thailand 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% by 2050. The decision also sets an intermediate target of a 27% 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, Thailand has also committed to cutting emissions by 20-25% by 2030. With this mutual vision, Israel certainly has a lot to share and contribute to Thailand’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 swaths 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 climate crisis.

For some countries, including Thailand, an adoption of Israeli innovations may benefit both the environment and the people. Naturally, the rapidly emerging effects of climate crisis have had great impacts on Thailand’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 a more efficient and sustainable farming as well as a course to better the lives of affected Thai 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.

About the author
Ms. Orna Sagiv is the Chargé d’Affaires at the Embassy of Israel in Bangkok. She formerly served as the Israeli ambassador to Australia and New Zealand, and as a Consul General in India.