Historic Agreement Shows Not all Politics – or Climate Change – is Local

ShiraToday, Governor Jerry Brown added to an encouraging trend of historic agreements between California and global partners, this time striking a deal with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The agreement expands cooperation on issues important to both jurisdictions including alternative energy, water conservation, and agriculture. It also allows Israeli companies to access California’s Innovation Hubs in an effort to improve the Golden State's global economic competitiveness.

But perhaps most important were Brown’s comments on the need to collectively confront climate change, continuing a common theme reflected in his remarks last week  during a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing with Peru when he said, “…unlike our more conservative colleagues, people in other countries really take climate change more seriously and they want to work with California. So given some of the dysfunction in Washington, I’m going to increasingly work with other countries to sign climate change agreements.”

Brown’s remarks follow MoUs signed with Australia and China last year, and come at time when the Golden State is looking to expand its partnership on energy and climate with Mexico. Today’s agreement continues concerted efforts to find progress and growth opportunities anywhere California can – including outside our nation’s borders.

Today’s signing seems like a natural one. California and Israel are both international leaders in energy, research, and technology, and this expanded partnership will strengthen cooperation between the two in areas like alternative energy and water. Here’s a closer look:

Alternative Energy

Both Israel and California are breaking records while harnessing the sun’s power. California recently opened the world’s largest solar thermal farm in the desert with the capacity to power 140,000 homes, using technology developed in Brightsource Energy’s Israeli plant. Similarly, Israel is planning its largest solar thermal farm, also a Brightsource project, with a projected opening in 2017.

Water

With an arid climate, Israel has always been a water-constrained country. In the past few years, the Sea of Galilee, its largest fresh water source, has been at historically low levels and climate change is projected to only make this worse.

Once a grave concern, Israel no longer faces a water crisis. With the largest desalinization plants in the world opening last year, most days Israel has more water than it needs.

California, which finds itself in the third unbearable year of a drought, could benefit from this technology. In fact, the state is planning 15 desalinization plants, including the largest desalinization plant in the Western Hemisphere, being built near San Diego by an Israeli company.

Although these plants can be energy intensive, the California plant will use energy recovery technology, and hopes to ultimately reach carbon neutrality.

Salt isn’t the only thing being removed from water used in Israel. Israel and California both use a large percent of their water for agricultural purposes, and with conservation in mind, California can also learn from Israel’s example of filtering sewage water for use on farms.

 

Last summer, California-based Google bought Waze, an Israeli maps application for a pretty $1.1 billion. Today’s agreement represents another opportunity to produce more successful business ventures and spawn collaborations in energy and technology that are mutually beneficial.

While we don’t know what country or region is next, it’s almost certain Brown is looking for more partnerships to forge – at home or abroad. This should be welcome news to Californians, as state leadership continues to identify opportunities to grow its economy and keep its environment sustainable and strong.

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