August 28, 2023, Updated September 4, 2023

No matter where we live, we are already starting to feel the pain caused by climate change. We can no longer just duck and cover.

Israel – a nation born out of crisis — is on the frontlines of fighting climate change. It is using skills learned as a nation built out of the ashes of the Holocaust to overcome the challenges of war, terrorism and massive influxes of diverse immigrants.

Using skills born out of crisis to prevent climate disasters
Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi of the Mizrahi Family Charitable Trust. Photo courtesy of J.L. Mizrahi

Today, Israeli scientists, researchers, entrepreneurs and activists understand that the best way to avoid disasters is to prevent them in the first place.

Thus, they are being proactive and working to find and implement solutions to dramatically reduce greenhouse gases and climate damage before it is too late. 

The tiny country of Israel, located in a Middle East climate hotspot, has more than 800 climate-related startups. How did that happen?

Of course, part of it is what one of Israel’s founding fathers, former president, prime minister and Nobel Prize winner Shimon Peres used to say:

“In Israel, a land lacking in natural resources, we learned to appreciate our greatest national advantage: our minds. Through creativity and innovation, we transformed barren deserts into flourishing fields and pioneered new frontiers in science and technology.”

Using skills born out of crisis to prevent climate disasters
Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi and Israeli President Shimon Peres. Photos courtesy of J.L. Mizrahi

But it’s even more than that.

Imagining the worst

Israelis have big imaginations – including the ability to imagine the worst.

The founder of modern Zionism, Theodore Herzl, understood how to spot and prevent catastrophes. Herzl warned of the dangers of anti-Semitism well before the Holocaust.

Some people laughed at Herzl – just as they dismissed the expertise of Carl Sagan back in 1985 when he warned the world about dangerous human-induced climate change.

Similarly, the bold people with big imaginations who rebuilt the Jewish state – just like their descendants and newer immigrants — understood both dangers and opportunities.

And today, a lot of Israelis with big imaginations are creating, developing, and delivering breakthrough solutions that can help reduce the threat of climate change to people and our shared planet.

Startups, investors, activists, academics

In energy, agriculture, infrastructure, AI, foodtech and other fields, Israelis are working to unlock the potential of imagination and science.

This includes promising developments from Carrar’s EV battery solutions; developing fusion as a clean energy source from NT-Tao; Bioplasmar’s aim to eliminate plastic pots while improving agricultural growth; and animal-free Remilk.

Philanthropists and investors are putting their money to work to expand the scale and scope of breakthrough solutions.

This includes the Jewish Funders Network’s Green Funders Forum, OurCrowd and Start-Up Nation Central, which are all bringing needed resources to climate tech and the fight for survival.

Israeli nonprofits, policy activists and universities are on the frontlines as well.

This includes climate heroes at Green Course, EcoOcean, Gigawatt Global and groups such as the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development who bring people of all faiths together to work on climate solutions.

Using skills born out of crisis to prevent climate disasters
EcoOcean volunteers with bags full of sticky tar cleaned from Israel’s beaches. Photo courtesy of EcoOcean

Additionally, every Israeli university now has an academic program on climate science.

The Israeli government’s Israel Innovation Authority tracks and nurtures climate startups.

This fall, Israel will bring a delegation of more than 1,000 to the United Nations’ global climate event, COP28, to share solutions and help expand regional peace.

Meanwhile, Israel’s President Isaac Herzog has a major initiative on climate and recently joined U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris in announcing a $75 million joint effort to find climate solutions.

Mark your calendar

Perhaps most importantly, Israelis are collaborating and sharing ideas to create a sustainable future. Mark your own calendar to join these major climate confabs where some of the brightest hearts and minds will share solutions:

  • DeserTech, September 13 at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheva. DeserTech is an innovation community that promotes the development, adaptation and commercialization of technologies that enable sustainable living in arid climates.
  • PLANETech summit, October 16-19 in Tel Aviv, will have 70-plus speakers, 130 startups and more than 3,000 attendees.
  • Eilat-Eilot 10th Renewable Energy Conference 2023, December 17-19 in Eilat. This event promotes a global shift to clean energy and a low-carbon economy by presenting innovative technologies, bold policies and partnerships.
  • The Climate Solutions Festival, November 28-29, will have hundreds of global leaders and innovative companies. There will be $2.3 million in prizesto empower changemakers and foster breakthrough innovations that address climate change.

Israelis are using innovation and grit to move beyond evolutionary progress to scientific revolutions. However, everyone – regardless of their background or location – can take Israel’s can-do spirit in their own efforts to fight climate change. Together we can create a sustainable future.

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi is the cofounder/director of the Mizrahi Family Charitable Trust. She is a climate blogger at the Times of Israel, has a certificate in Climate Change Policy, Economics and Politics from Harvard, and serves on the Maryland Commission on Climate Change. Her work has won numerous awards and been profiled widely in numerous media outlets.

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