- World oil will end in 41 years according to currently known reserves.
- Within 15 years, about 85% of those oil reserves will be in the Middle East, which presents a strategic problem for Israel.
- The price of petrol is rising globally.
- Israel is in the middle of an electricity energy crisis. Blackouts will increase over time.
"On the one hand, Israel has almost no natural resources of its own but on the other hand Israel has no clear sustainable energy policy to deal with either climate change nor the global and domestic energy crisis," says Yael Cohen-Paran, founding director of the Israel Energy Forum – a new initiative to achieve and implement sustainable energy policy in Israel.
Yael is one of IVN's 2008-10 Social Entrepreneur (SE) Fellows. Initiated in 2004 in partnership with the New Israel Fund, IVN's SE Fellowship Program supports and incubates entrepreneurial individuals, such as Yael, dedicated to developing and implementing innovative and sustainable social/economic solutions in Israel and beyond and empowering people and communities to create positive, sustained change. However, they often lack the resources and support mechanisms to achieve their goals. The Fellowships enable SEs to dedicate 100% of their time to their projects during the 2-year period of the Fellowship, growing and expanding the projects.
Over the past two years, the global political agenda has dramatically shifted to focus on the issue of global warming and the climate crisis. As the severe environmental, health and economic consequences of the intensive use of fossil fuels are revealed, the urgent need to significantly reduce carbon emissions has become clear. Of no less importance is the question of the imminent peak in world oil production and the ensuing energy crisis. Oil prices have recently increased to an all-times record and are expected to increase even more.
Yet very little is being done in Israel with regard to climate change and the rapidly approaching energy crisis. In fact, following the blackouts of the summer of 2007, which are expected to significantly increase in 2008, it can be stated that Israel is already in the midst of an energy crisis and its ability to provide it's citizens with steady supply of electricity is now cast in doubt.
"It is hard to underestimate the importance and urgency for Israeli society of the conversion from lavish fossil fuels to a low intensity, alternative energy economy - securing Israel's energy independence is becoming an existential question," says Yael. "Some of the world's most advanced research on solar energy is conducted in Israeli academic institutions, and Israeli companies have become world leaders in renewable energy production, yet almost none of this knowledge is implemented internally."
Although many governmental and non-governmental institutions in Israel deal with different aspects of energy management, these bodies have differing agendas and rarely interact with each other thus no clear policy is in fact set. The lack of a coordinating body to bring these institutions together and set forward a clear, achievable policy is the gap the Forum, supported by a group of Israel's leading scientists and energy experts, as well executives from the industry, aims to fill.