by Tamar Auber, 25 Sept. 2014. Source: JSpace news

Tuesday, Sept. 23rd 2014, in New York City, over 125 world leaders gathered at the United Nations to talk about the need for international action to help stop climate change. In his mid-day talk with the press, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed the importance of the historic day.

“Change is in the air. Today’s Climate Summit has shown an entirely new, cooperative global approach to climate change,” Ban said. “The actions announced today by governments, businesses, finance and civil society show that many partners are eager to confront the challenges of climate change together.”

In his own turn at the podium, Israeli Environmental Minister Amir Peretz, who led the delegation from Israel, also expressed optimism that real change could be made through climate action.

During his short talk, Peretz thanked Secretary-General Ban for bringing the world leaders together and stressed that the Jewish state had an obligation to make environmental issues a top priority.

“The holy scripts tell us that when G-d first created man, he showed him all the trees in the Garden of Eden, saying: ‘All I created – I created for you. Beware not to destroy my world, for if you do, there is no one to repair it after you.’” Peretz said, adding, “We are here to ensure a sustainable world for us, our children and our grandchildren.”

He also outlined the changes Israel has made to build a more sustainable nation, including shifting from coal to cleaner burning fuels, subsidizing municipal energy efficiency plans and promoting solar power.

In the highlight of his speech, Peretz also suggested that a focus on sustainable development may provide a pathway to better relations in the Middle East. “The environment knows no borders. Neither does climate change,” Peretz stressed, calling for renewed negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians under the leadership of Abu Mazen (President Mahmoud Abbas).

He then concluded that environmental issues may be a bridge to peace. “There are many difficult issues to solve, but I believe that environment is one thing we all agree on,” Peretz told the assemblage of world leaders. “Let us begin with environment and climate change as a bridge to peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”