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The Future of the Globe after COP 15

By Dr. Orr Karassin

COPENHAGEN (Dec. 21, 2009) — The world’s largest ever political gathering, COP15, the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen, began with a bang and ended with a whimper. Although it coincided with the festival of Chanukah, a festival of miracles, the conference produced none of the comparable miracles for which many wished. No notable achievement resulted from the gathering of 130 heads of state and 193 national delegations, all stressing the decisive moment, the gravity of the issues and the great common challenge facing mankind.


Only a minute group of developed countries were willing to commit to substantial, clear and verifiable greenhoue-gas emission reduction targets that actually could bring us to the 2º C warming target that had been agreed to be the upper limit before dangerous results occurred from climate change. Several countries, particularly the most vulnerable small island states, claimed that even this limit is too high as it probably represents their complete annihilation. Disagreement reigned until the end of the conference on emission reductions by large developing economies; the quantity of aid and funds for adaptation to, and mitigation of the damage from global warming in developing countries; and especially, the development and mechanism of transferring technologies.


During the conference's last days, even in the presence of President Barack Obama, it became evident that the world has not mustered the motivation to effectively tackle the greatest challenge humankind has ever known. It is daunting that we may never witness international leadership or global commitments essential to stop the dangerous effects of climate change. We may have nothing left but to demand from our leaders, adaptation to the warming — preparing counties for the worst.


Adaptation will, in fact, be required from all nations even in an optimistic 2º C warming scenario. Some have estimated that at least $1 trillion will be needed to prepare countries for climate change before 2020. KKL-JNF work in Israel’s arid and semi-arid environment has gained it significant knowledge on adaptation, such as afforestation in arid and semi-arid environments, water harvesting, soil conservation and preventing degradation. The KKL-JNF delegation to Copenhagen came with the intent of sharing KKL-JNF information with those in need and it vowed to join the international pledge for technology transfer. Not many developing countries share our circumstances of such an arid environment, so Israeli knowledge on combating desertification has become highly respected throughout the world.


We aim to share our knowledge as part of the global effort to mitigate damage and adapt to climate change. In cooperation with the State of Israel, KKL-JNF aims to initiate a five-year plan for capacity building, counseling and providing support for adaptation programs in developing counties.




Dr. Orr Karassin is a former Green Zionist Alliance representative to the board of directors of Jewish National Fund in Israel and an advisory-board member of Aytzim: Ecological Judaism.



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