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Agony in Israel, Gaza Shows Our Deep Interdependence—In Ground Wars and Climate Crisis
Our common humanity is the most powerful tool in our response to this war. And the only path to confront a climate emergency that everyone in the region holds in common.
It’s been such a horrific week, with so many of us raging, grieving, and struggling to comprehend the incomprehensible: Hamas’ brutal massacres in Israel, and now the soaring toll of death, displacement, and destruction raining down on people in Gaza.
As news channels scroll and the rest of us doomscroll through an endless loop of suffering on both sides of the line, the only way to understand this roiling, massing catastrophe is to bring our own common humanity to the conversation, one day at a time. And set that same expectation for anyone making life-and-death decisions about what happens next.
Even on days when that feels hopelessly naïve and unrealistic.
The alternative to asserting this bedrock principle is the horror that unfolded last week at kibbutzim and a techno music festival in Israel, and the murderous misery now playing out for people in a crowded, blockaded, fully besieged enclave described as an open-air prison in a 2022 review by Human Rights Watch.
The alternative, need it even be said, is no alternative at all.
In writing, then rewriting this post, then rewriting it again, I’ve been gently reminded to avoid the suddenly widespread error of commenting at length for commenting’s sake, or of feeling compelled to do so. So I’m passing the virtual mic to two of the clearest voices among the dozens I’ve been following over the last week.
‘Side with the Child Over the Gun’
From author Nir Avishai Cohen, a major in the Israeli army reserve:
Our enemies are the deadly terrorist organizations that are being controlled by Islamic extremists.
Palestinians aren’t the enemy. The millions of Palestinians who live right here next to us, between the Mediterranean Sea and Jordan, are not our enemy. Just like the majority of Israelis want to live a calm, peaceful, and dignified life, so do Palestinians. Israelis and Palestinians alike have been in the grip of a religious minority for decades. On both sides, the intractable positions of a small group have dragged us into violence. It doesn’t matter who is more cruel or more ruthless. The ideologies of both have fuelled this conflict, leading to the deaths of too many innocent civilians…
Israelis must realize that there is no greater security asset than peace. The strongest army cannot protect the country the way peace does. This current war proves it once again. Israel has followed the path of war for too long.
From author and activist Naomi Klein, co-director of the University of British Columbia’s Centre for Climate Justice:
…Antisemitism (besides being hateful) is the rocket fuel of militant Zionism.
What could lessen its power, drain it of some of that fuel? True solidarity. Humanism that unites people across ethnic and religious lines. Fierce opposition to all forms of identity-based hatred, including antisemitism….Values that side with the child over the gun every single time, no matter whose gun and no matter whose child.
We need to hear a lot more of this, from loud and courageous voices on both sides, as the coming weeks and months unfold.
Human Solidarity: In Ground Wars and Climate Wars
It may seem like a stretch, even a mistake, to write about Israel and Gaza for a newsletter on climate change and decarbonization.
But it’s no stretch and no mistake at all to connect the dots back to the subject matter we cover here each week. Those connections begin with the basic sense of humanity, solidarity, and deep interdependence that we need, not only to end both crises, but to end them justly.
The focus this week has been on the agony of those who’ve lost loved ones on both sides of the line, the desperate fear for the Israelis held captive by Hamas, and the suffering and terror descending on the civilians of Gaza. But this new war could also have serious repercussions for the fight to get climate change under control.
•The UN’s COP 28 climate summit in Dubai is less than seven weeks away. With some momentum building to roll back future fossil fuel use and triple renewable energy deployment, there are serious concerns that the attacks will destabilize the region, Politico warns. And, by implication, threaten the talks.
• The war will increase competition for limited international aid from an epically dysfunctional U.S. government, the Washington Post adds, making it even harder to secure a critically important climate finance deal at COP 28. “If Washington funds its long-standing ally Israel instead, that also risks deepening mistrust within the developing world and undermining COP 28 efforts in which all countries must agree to any deal.”
The shift in funding priorities has already happened over the last 18 months, the Post says, with the U.S. and NATO approving essential military aid to Ukraine so much faster than they’ve agreed to equally essential funding for climate resilience and emission reductions.
“All these resources have been mobilized for war instead,” said Michai Robertson, senior finance advisor to the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS). “The lack of follow-through with [climate] commitments has huge implications on how we go about negotiating and building trust in the process.”
• While this war won’t lead to the quadrupling of global oil prices that followed the Yom Kippur War 50 years ago, “the Israel-Hamas conflict further inflames global energy market turmoil at a time when the global economy is already reeling from the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” the Royal Bank’s climate institute writes.
“The risk to energy transition is clear,” the bank adds, citing analysis by the International Monetary Fund. “Geopolitical divisions are among the major risks (extreme weather being another) that will lead to ‘fragmentation’ of commodities (energy, metals, and cleantech supply chains) and make decarbonization more costly.”
And the most obvious risk of all, in a region that is already getting hotter and hungrier, is the countries wasting scarce time and resources in an endless war over territory that is already becoming unliveable. Climate change doesn’t respect borders, and it isn’t taking sides. Which means that, on top of all the other outrages surrounding this war, it’s a dangerous distraction as daytime temperatures in the wider neighbourhood begin to exceed 50°C at the hottest times of year.
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Mitchell Beer traces his background in renewable energy and energy efficiency back to 1977, in climate change to 1997. Now he and the rest of the Energy Mix team scan 1,200 news headlines a week to pull together The Energy Mix, The Energy Mix Weekender, and our two weekly e-digests, Cities & Communities and Heat & Power.
You can also bookmark our website for the latest news throughout the week.
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