Israel, Jordan, and UAE collaborate to battle climate change.

Posted by Dorit Revitch on

We all hear about terrorism, election results in Israel, arguments in the government and so many other negative subjects or supposedly negative subjects, but, sometimes fighting is for a good cause like the following.

Did you know that Israel, UAE, and Jordan are fighting again? But in another battlefield.

Yes, they are fighting but NOT against each other on the contrary, a year ago this month an agreement has been signed between Israel, UAE, and Jordan to BATTLE Climate Change TOGETHER. Yes, you are reading this correctly, the three countries that were once enemies are now having a lot of goals together, and fighting climate change and GHG Emissions are only some of them.

Impacts of climate change include increasing temperatures, which could lead to drier conditions and stronger storms, as well as lower rainfall that reduce water flow.

The Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection has reported that climate change "will have a decisive impact on all areas of life, including water, public health, agriculture, energy, biodiversity, coastal infrastructure, economics, nature, national security, and geostrategy", and will have the greatest effect on vulnerable populations such as the poor, the elderly, and the chronically ill.

Israel has been at the forefront of the technological revolution while being aware of climate change.

For instance, to cope with water scarcity, Israel has developed advanced technologies for desalination and wastewater treatment.

Israel takes many actions on the national level already for many years and still, the Greenhouse Gas Emissions are too high.

At the same time, Israel is a party to several international agreements regarding air pollution and climate change, including the Kyoto Protocol, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and Montreal Protocol.

Despite having taken many preventive steps, Israel's environment continues to suffer as the rapidly growing population and standard of living contribute to increasing Green House Gas emissions and air pollutants. On November 22nd, 2016, Israel ratified the Paris Agreement. The country is part of three initiatives in mitigation and adaptation and 16 other actions taken by non-governmental actors.

When you look at all this and you understand that Israel is proactively acting to reduce GHG Emissions, which led to the start of its cooperation with other countries looking to achieve the same results, as well as needing some of Israel’s resources and knowledge.

The first countries you wish to help are your neighbors, as it impacts your environment as well, Hence Jordan and Israel has the knowledge to help countries located in the desert then UAE which is in a good friendly relationship with Israel is having the privilege of benefitting from Israel’s knowledge and services on this subject.

We all realize that all parties involved are benefitting from this agreement, as it should be.

For instance, under the agreement, Tel Aviv would purchase solar power from the Jordan-based facility, Prosperity Green – a 600 MW capacity solar plant built by an Emirati firm – while Amman will purchase water from an Israeli site, Prosperity Blue, which is to be constructed along the Mediterranean coast and amount to 200 million cubic meters of desalinated water per year.

Being almost landlocked, apart from the Dead Sea and a section of the Gulf of Aqaba, Jordan is one of the world's most water-deficient nations and requires steady imports of water supplies.

Israel has, for a long time, provided those imports, even before the two neighboring countries established official relations, and Amman reportedly sees it as a necessity to benefit from Tel Aviv's advanced desalination technology, especially at a time of sparse water supplies and increased drought in the region over the past few years. Remember that Jordan is the second most water-scarce country in the world, and Israel was there all the years, and for sure now.

Also, Israel is targeting 30 percent of its energy coming from renewable sources by 2030, up from a previous target of 17 percent, as it looks to achieve net zero carbon emissions in the energy sector by 2050.

The normalization of relations between Israel and the UAE was part of the Abraham Accords in August 2020. These agreements allowed for Israeli-Emirati negotiations to take place and for Emirati funding and technical know-how to be involved via an Emirati government-owned firm, Masdar. This company would construct a large solar power facility in Jordan, which would produce electricity by 2026. All the electricity produced would be sold to Israel for $180 million dollars per year, contributing, modestly, to Israel’s goals for increasing its renewable energy and diversifying its energy sources that primarily include large reservoirs of natural gas in the Israeli exclusive economic waters. Masdar, the Emirati company, would split the proceeds with Jordan. In return, Israel has committed to provide desalinated water from its Mediterranean coast, perhaps via a new separate desalination facility, to produce 200 million cubic meters of water for Jordan, in a significant boon to Jordan’s water supply.

Israel, which is also a water-poor country, began desalination seawater in 2005. Since then, it has dramatically increased its desalination capacity to now provide for most of Israel’s water needs. The state’s latest plans call for perhaps 90% of Israeli municipal and industrial consumption to come from desalinated water. Although energy-intensive, desalination solved a long-standing shortage in the Israeli water supply. Importing water from Israel is more efficient for Amman than developing its own desalination capabilities since Jordan’s small Red Sea coastline at Aqaba, in the south, is far from the Jordanian population centers. Israel’s Mediterranean coastline, to their west, is the natural source of seawater, and is only around 105 mile, while Aqaba to Amman is 206 miles.

The countries have already cooperated on gas infrastructure, with the sale of Israeli natural gas to Jordan. They even reached a tentative agreement for a hydroelectric project running seawater from the Red Sea (at sea level) to the Dead Sea, at -400 meters — the Red-Dead project. The agreement never came to fruition, however, due to Israeli misgivings on the utility of the project and public concern over its effects on the Dead Sea. None of the prior agreements, however, would have had this effect in real terms, especially in the water supply to Jordan.

So why did we decide to talk about this today? Today November 8th, 2022, Israel, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have renewed their Memorandum of Understanding for the trade of solar energy for desalinated water supplies, continuing cooperation deemed necessary between Tel Aviv and Amman.

In the presence of US climate envoy, Mr. John Kerry, at the COP27 climate conference in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh, the Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Israel's Outgoing Regional Cooperation Minister, Esawi Frej, Jordanian Minister of Water and Irrigation, Mohammad Al Najjar and UAE's Climate Change and Environment Minister, Mariam Al Mheiri.

The good news in the Middle East is a rare commodity. So is practical progress on climate change.

So always remember that enemies today can be good friends tomorrow, especially when they have a mutual cause they aim at together.

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