Interview: Climate Action Takes Shape in Israel
David Dunetz has worked for 20 years at the Heschel Center for Sustainability in Tel Aviv, which leads the Israel Climate Forum, a consortium of civil society organizations. As a Visiting Research Fellow at the IASS Potsdam on a joint program with the Israel Public Policy Institute, he is currently researching how civic engagement and participation processes can advance climate policy and democratic innovation.
IASS: You have worked on efforts to promote sustainability in Israel for many years. Do you think that the message is finally getting through?
David Dunetz: Climate politics hasn’t been at the forefront of politics or the public mind, but there is a growing and broadening climate movement. We have a very vibrant civil society movement with different groups stepping up to take on the challenge of climate change – from social rights activists to religious groups and young people who are striking on Fridays. There are also a significant number of environmental and sustainability civil society organizations. So I hope to see environmental issues playing a greater role in national politics in the coming years.
IASS: Is climate action a factor in the campaign for the general election on 17 September?
D. D.: That’s the thing: climate action plays almost no role at all; the campaign in Israel is all about domestic issues centered around peace and conflicts between Arabs and Jews. Many social and economic issues get shunted to the periphery. This is different in municipal elections, where politicians often address very concrete environmental topics, such as the air pollution in Haifa. One positive aspect of all this is that there is no left-right divide in Israeli politics when it comes to sustainability: all of the parties agree that climate action will be an important topic in the future.
IASS: What is their political focus with regard to climate action?
D. D.: The government promotes Israel as a “start-up nation” and unfortunately views climate in a narrow sense as an economic opportunity for the country to export technological innovations developed in Israel. There is some truth to this image: Israel is very agile when it comes to technological innovations in, for example, water conservation for agriculture, biotech and fintech. And we are a center for some key innovations in solar energy, which usually get exported. But compared to other nations, Israel lags far behind in the transition to renewable energy generation, which accounts for just 4% of our energy mix. There is hope that this will change, and many people are fighting hard for it. At the Heschel Center, we are working closely with a broad range of stakeholders in a participatory process to develop new climate protection legislation. I’m very happy about these developments, as democratic participation must go hand in hand with climate protection.
You can find the complete interview for your use here: https://www.iass-potsdam.de/en/news/climate-action-takes-shape-israel
On Tuesday, August 20, 2019, 14:00, David Dunetz will give a presentation at IASS Potsdam (Bankgebäude, Helmholtzstr. 5, 14467 Potsdam). If you would like to attend, please register at firstname.lastname@example.org