Ron Tomer, president of the Manufacturers Association, defends the inclusion of fossil fuel companies in the climate conference: ‘Gas companies are part of the solutions and Israel couldn’t exist without them’

President Herzog speaks at the UN climate summit, Tuesday.
President Herzog speaks at the UN climate summit, Tuesday.Credit: Chaim Tzach / GPO

Nov 8, 2022 Lee Yaron

The Israeli delegation to the United Nations Climate Change Conference taking place this week in Egypt includes executives of the fossil fuel companies Chevron and Ratio Energy, Haaretz has learned.

The employees of the polluting companies are part of the delegation being sent by the Manufacturers Association, which said that “there will be a delegation of companies that have an environmental impact and are interested in reducing emissions.” Officials from Israel Chemicals are also joining the Israeli delegation.

The executives of the polluting companies registered for the conference through the Manufacturers Association in cooperation with the government, thereby entitling them to wear official badges. Government sources explained that they didn’t check every name on the list of participants and that they couldn’t individually examine the background of all those registered.

Fossil fuel companies are the chief contributors to climate change. Chevron is one of the biggest oil and gas producers in the world, whose business model is based on fossil fuels whose burning causes global warming. According to media reports, the company is contending with scores of lawsuits accusing it of causing serious environmental damage.

U.S.-based Chevron is the operating partner of the Leviathan and Tamar gas fields offshore Israel and is a leading shareholder in each. The Israeli company Ratio owns 15 percent of Leviathan.

Chevron often seeks to portray itself as green. Recently, the company began offering scholarships to students to promote “environmental and social responsibility,” funded by the Leviathan partnership.

But research published in 2019 by the Corporate Social Responsibility Institute found that apart from Saudi Aramco, no other company generates more greenhouse gasses than Chevron. Energy giants Exxon-Mobil, Chevon, Shell, BP and others together are responsible for more than 10 percent of the world’s carbon emissions in the world since 1965.

In-depth research published last February in the journal PLOS One found on the basis of data collected over 12 years that while the world’s big oil and gas companies claim they are transitioning to clean energy, there are justifiable reasons for accusing them of greenwashing. The researchers found that the companies’ claims were not consistent with their operations and that during the period examined they expanded, rather than reduced fossil fuel exploration.

Israel Chemicals isn’t a fossil fuel company, but its facilities regularly appear at the top of the Environmental Protection Ministry’s list of polluting factories in Israel.

Ron Tomer, president of the Manufacturers Association, defended the inclusion of fossil fuel companies in the climate change conference. “As manufacturers, we are concerned about climate change and are doing a lot on this issue,” he told Haaretz. “We allowed all companies that belong to the association to register for the conference through us. These companies are part of the solution and part of Israel’s sustainability, which has both climate and economic aspects. The solutions will come from them, too.

“Europe is now experiencing an energy crisis, people are worried about the rising prices of goods,” Tomer said. “Gas companies are part of the solutions and Israel couldn’t exist without them. They are investing a lot in renewable energy and it’s good that they’re here. It’s easy to say ‘greenwashing,’ but there is a lot happening beyond that.”