Itamar Weizman.

At a time of war, investing in climate-tech is not a privilege - it is a strategic necessity

“The Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance must wake up and understand that allocating resources to climate-tech is not only a victory for the Israeli economy, but also for national security and advocacy,” writes Itamar Weizman, Partner and Head of Climate-tech at the Firstime VC

With the closing of the COP28 Climate Change Conference in Dubai earlier this month, it seems it was convenient for all participating countries not to commit to any clear goal: not to a blueprint for transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy, not to a financial commitment for compensation to global south countries, and not to an agreed carbon tax model.
Precisely during the climate conference and amid a barrage of bad news during the war, one important message was missing from the media buzz - the State of Israel cut NIS 200 million from its budget that was earmarked for Israeli climate resilience projects. This points to the widening gap between the big promises made to turn around the Israeli economy and sparse government action. Even more concerning is the Innovation Authority report that points to a 60% drop in year-over-year climate-tech investments, showing a significant lack of the resources needed to confront the climate crisis challenges.
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Itamar Weizman
Itamar Weizman
Itamar Weizman.
(Bar Cohen)
Amidst these challenging times, there are voices among the public and government advocating for the direction of all economic resources to meet urgent security needs. However, the truth is that the most pressing security, economic and social need at present is to fortify the economy through long-term investments in technologies aimed at addressing the climate crisis. These solutions should be a pivotal component of a new national plan designed to bolster the Israeli economy, especially in this period of uncertainty and security pressures.
While the government is turning a blind eye, Israeli entrepreneurs are not shying away from confronting head on the climate crisis challenges. A new report by PLANETech Organization on the state of Israeli climate-tech highlights a growing number of talented Israeli entrepreneurs establishing groundbreaking companies aimed at tackling and preparing for the climate crisis. One out of six Israeli startups established in the past year were in the climate-tech fields, with 14 cents of every shekel invested being raised by companies in the field.
Investing in climate-tech will not only contribute to the environment, but it also can create new jobs, develop local industries and strengthen the Israeli economy. At a time when the countries around the world are limiting Israel’s strides in the world arena, this presents an opportunity to improve Israel's global image as a leader in green and technological innovation, as the world's powers are sitting idly by instead of tackling humanity's greatest crisis - the climate crisis.
While the past year was the worst year for global high-tech since the bursting of the bubble and many technological sectors took a severe beating, climate-tech was the least impacted, with over $30 billion invested. The relative stability of the climate-tech market and the dramatic growth in the volume of anticipated investments present an opportunity to strengthen the Israeli economy, create new jobs, and open new markets for Israeli entrepreneurs worldwide. Israel can turn the existing challenges into a catalyst for innovation and the development of technologies in renewable energy, the circular economy, sustainable agriculture and the fixation of toxic greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide. Israeli universities and research bodies are at the forefront of climate research. Now is the time to catch up with the scope of investments in climate-tech owing to the outstanding capabilities of Israel’s researchers. Israel’s over 75 years of experience in dealing with domestic climate challenges and preparing for extreme conditions can be turned into a real asset.
The developing climate-tech economy presents a remarkable opportunity for Israeli entrepreneurs who come with proven experience in developing advanced technologies in the fields of agriculture, water and energy. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance must wake up and understand that allocating resources to climate-tech is not only a victory for the Israeli economy, but also for national security and advocacy. It is precisely times of crisis that present an exceptional opportunity for developing new technologies that can cut costs, improve the quality of the environment, and create a thriving and innovative industry. The time has come for the government to change its policy and invest actively and significantly in green solutions, which are an integral part of our collective future.
Itamar Weizman is a Partner and Head of Climate-tech at the Firstime VC