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Israel’s Environmental Protection Ministry disclosed at the end of last year how it intends to fight the climate crisis: with a generous budget for educating younger generations. Reportedly, NIS15 million ($4.8 million) is being portioned off to fund a comprehensive program that will arm future generations with information about what the climate crisis is and the dangers it presents. Practical advice on how to fight back is being offered alongside.
The educational program has been developed as a three-way collaboration between the Environmental Ministry, council of youth movements, and Education Ministry. Training courses and interactive activities that will be led, in part, by a newly appointed sustainability coordinator, have already begun. Participants are being encouraged to think about practical changes they can make to live more sustainably.
Accepting the need for action
Israel’s commitment to educating its youngsters about the climate crisis is indicative of a country-wide shift. At COP26 in November last year, its Minister of Environmental Protection, Tamar Zandberg, iterated that Israel is working towards carbon neutrality by 2050. Confidence levels are high that this will be realised. Zandberg has been unequivocally vocal about commitments to addressing the climate crisis, referring to it as one of the Israeli government’s top priorities, “for the first time”.
“The climate crisis has become a reality, and we must be realistic and speedy in dealing with it, Zandberg said in her address to the 2021 Climate Innovation Summit. “The truth is, that in the post-COVID world, most countries will be focused on restarting their economies. The question then is how to accelerate economic growth, international trade, and infrastructure development, while at the same time, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees and adapting to a world reshaped by climate change?”
In answer to her own question, Zandberg nodded to the particular skills and expertise coming out of Israel that can guarantee a more sustainable and secure future for the entire world. Seeing the number of alt-protein startups looking to offer food security via resource-light production methods, food tech must have been one of her primary thoughts.
Alongside food innovation, Israel has implemented a number of green initiatives. Targeting waste, transportation emissions and energy use, various policies are being drawn up. Notable amongst them is a radical new carbon costing program that will see polluters having to pay for their emissions directly, instead of the public covering costs with their mandatory tax contributions.
Leading the charge for a new food system
Food production, in particular meat manufacturing, has been shown to be responsible for almost one-third of all human-generated greenhouse gas emissions. Israel is proactively seeking to master the development of various alt-proteins to usurp reliance on animal farming. Its efforts are being recognised by global investors, leading to a recent revelation that its alt-protein sector garnered 450 percent more investments in 2021, compared to 2020.
In total, Israel welcomed $623 million in backing in 2021, up from $114 million the year before. Breaking the figures down further shows that $507 million was allocated just to cultivated meats, arguably Israel’s forte.
In the last two weeks alone, multiple developments have been unveiled by Israel’s alt-protein sector. First came the reveal of new plant-based meat made from food production waste. Next came the announcement of a new partnership between domestic cultivated startup Future Meat with Thailand’s Charoen Pokphand Foods to bring cell-based meats to Asia. Just yesterday, Middle Eastern food tech SuperMeat declared that it will be working with Germany’s PHW group to filter cultivated poultry products to Europe.
Lead photo of Tamar Zandberg by Israel’s Environmental Protection Ministry.