Climate Change Communication in Israel
- Hillel NossekHillel NossekKinneret College on the Sea of Galilee
Given its location between the Mediterranean Sea and the desert, it seems Israel would be aware of the potential risks of climate change, especially given its lack of natural fossil resources, among other factors. Its location might have led to a greater emphasis on adaptation than mitigation and for climate change communication to flow from all relevant agents, utilized by the ingenuity of this hi-tech nation toward adaptation solutions. However, tracking the development of climate change policy and action leads to the conclusion that climate change is not at the top of Israel’s agenda, due to factors ranging from defense to the neoliberal economy.
This article presents some background history of climate change activism and policy development in Israel. It considers the relevant Israeli context that was the bedrock of climate change policy and activity. It also reviews the communicative activity of the relevant agents, including the government, parliament, scientists, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), the media, and the public at large, and examines climate change on the public’s agenda as it was presented by the media and reflected in public opinion polls, especially around global climate change events initiated by the United Nations (UN) from Bali (2007) to Paris (2015).
Climate change communication in Israel is primarily practiced within the environmental communication field and less so in the science communication field. Communication about climate change is fairly benign compared to the war and terror that are part of everyday life in Israel. Only in the 1970s did environmental communication emerge in various media channels and was placed on the public’s agenda, while climate change communication specifically began to gain salience slowly only in the first decade of the 21st century. Mass media coverage of climate change in Israel is generally quite low compared to other developed countries in the West, with new media channels partially used by interested nongovernmental organizations and individual activists. From time to time, media events organized by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and world summits on climate change that involve mainly local political interests serve to increase coverage and raise public interest. As in other countries, coverage is usually local rather than global, even though climate change is a global problem. How effective is climate change communication in Israel? Research has only partially answered this question. It seems that the legacy of low media coverage contributes to the low salience of climate change on the governmental and public agendas. Moreover, the atmosphere of uncertain risks and outcomes for Israel has not created a climate of urgency for policymakers.