From the Corona Crisis to the Climate Crisis
Chen Lichtenstein, Chief Financial Officer, Syngenta Ventures: “Tthe challenges and complications a small country like Israel faces, is a drop in the ocean by comparison. Israel should be able to easily make decisions of the same explicit impact – the word zero is critical.”
“Countries around the world have made far-reaching decisions with regards to climate change. China has a huge economy and its electricity is still largely dependent on coal. The president of China has committed that by 2030 China will become neutral as far as emissions are concerned and achieve zero emissions by 2060. So, with all due respect, the challenges and complications a small country like Israel faces is a drop in the ocean by comparison. Israel should be able to easily make decisions of the same explicit impact – the word zero is critical….” said Chen Lichtenstein, chief financial officer of Syngenta Ventures today at the Israel Democracy Institute’s (IDI) annual Eli Hurvitz Conference for Economy and Society in a panel on on the Corona Crisis to the Climate Crisis.
“We are living at a time when huge sums are channeled into industries and economies in Israel and around the world. Due to the coronavirus crisis, treasuries and central banks have aggressively opened their wallets, and it is important to try and invest some of this money in projects that will have long-term impacts. The need to invest in slowing down global warming and in creating a low-carbon economy couldn’t be any clearer, especially in this period. These investments will have an almost certain return in many respects, and those who do not invest will simply not remain competitive. The demands of the entire world are advancing at an accelerated rate on these issues, companies are starting to become more competitive, and this field will be very profitable.”
Daphna Aviram-Nitzan, director of the IDI Center for Governance and the Economy: “When it comes to infrastructure in general and transportation infrastructure in particular, the business sector alone cannot meet the challenge: a state budget is necessary. As part of the COVID budget, NIS 5 billion was allocated for the purpose of accelerating growth, and a significant portion of this can be directed to accelerating “green” growth. There is a mega international shift and those who do not keep up will simply be left behind. They won’t be able to trade internationally, attract investors, or enjoy the savings in energy costs.”
Nitzan Moshe, chair of the Environmental Quality Committee of the Manufacturers Association: “Climate effects are an integral part of industry in Israel and around the world. We chose to set a goal of reducing emissions and took action. We showed a decrease from 4.2 million tons in 2008 and today stand at 3.2 million tons, with the goal of reaching 2.3 million tons by 2030. We have set an ambitious goal and we are proud of it, and all this without any overhead regulations. Industry can and should lead Israel’s leap forward in the field of sustainability in particular and in the field of emissions in general. We have companies in Israel that demonstrate solidarity with the environment, with the community, and with employees. In my opinion, this is a basic request that all can agree on.”
Harel Shlissel, head of the energy sector of the Ministry of Finance’s Budget Department: “If we do an international comparison of electricity production from solar energy, you will see that Israel is already among the leading countries in the world today, even before 2030. This is doubly true when we are talking about a system that will rely almost absolutely on solar production. We are going to be one of the leading countries in this field…. Solar energy production is more efficient when compared to conventional production and wind energy production by hundreds of percent, and we need to prepare appropriately for it to be more efficient. Production is limited during the daytime when the sun is out. The more we depend on solar production, the more significant the gap will be between the hours of the sun and the rest of the day. This is where storage comes in. It will allow us to make better use of the network, improve efficiency, and save on the construction of lines. Another element is the issue of electricity tariffs: if prices are not competitive and attractive, consumers, industry, and the business sector will not switch to solar electricity so quickly.”
Dr. Dov Khenin, Tel Aviv University, initiator of “Changing Course 2020”: “The IPCC’s latest assessment of the situation is that if we want to avoid an environmental, economic, and social catastrophe and meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, the world needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030. In Israel, there is talk of a 27% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030 – that is not enough. We are part of the international effort and we cannot set such a low goal for ourselves in comparison to what is happening in other developed countries....”
On the disparity between Israel’s goals and the world’s Dr. Khenin added: “The Ministry of Energy talks about reducing 80% of emissions in the energy economy by 2050, the Ministry of Economy in its paper talks about reducing 40% of emissions in industry by 2050. In the developed world the standard is zero emissions by 2050. These are the standards the world is going to align with. Israel will find itself outside the club, and this will have consequences not only for the environment but, first and foremost, for the economy.”
In the panel on Climate Change and Financial Risk, Galit Cohen, senior deputy director for planning, policy, and strategy at the Ministry of Environmental Protection said: “In the Global Risk Assessment Report published this year by the World Economic Forum, the climate change risk was rated at highest in terms of severity and likelihood of materialization. The transition policy to a low-carbon economy is reflected in the setting of ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 120 countries have already begun the process of moving to a zero-emission economy. The vast majority of leading countries have set a target of 100% renewable energy by 2050; some have even set a larger target by 2030. The market has not remained indifferent to this policy and to the need to resolve the market failure that led to the climate crisis. Currently, more than 30 financial entities managing more than $5 trillion will commit to a zero-emission portfolio by the UN initiative by 2050. The number of participants is increasing. About 1,200 entrants around the world have announced a gradual cessation of funding for greenhouse gas-rich activities. According to a report by the International Conference on Climate Change of the United Nations and the World Bank, a global investment of about $2 trillion in the next decade is expected to save more than $7 million in damage.”
The Eli Hurvitz Conference on Economy and Society – formerly the Caesarea Economic Policy Planning Forum – is widely recognized as Israel's most influential economic conference. For 27 years, the conference has served as a crossroads where public discourse and professional knowledge in economics and society meet, with the aim of improving decision-making processes in the administration and improving the quality of Israel's social and economic policy for the benefit of the entire public. The conference this year focuses on: macroeconomic policy in times of economic crisis; the labor market; the Israeli education system; governance in a time of crisis; strengthening the health system's readiness for crisis situations; and the relationship between local and central government. The conference is the apex of research and theoretical and practical research by working and thinking groups comprised of senior officials in the Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Finance, the Prime Minister's Office, academics, IDI experts, civil society representatives, and other partners. Together, the teams led research and developed policy recommendations on issues closely related to the conference sessions, which will be presented during the conference, held online this year from December 14 to December 16.