UN official Perumal Arumugam said Israel could have a leading role in the reduction of CO2 emissions in agriculture and in carbon storage and removal technologies. The program officer at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) spoke at the first Israeli carbon capture conference on Thursday that gathered together tech innovators, government representatives, NGO professionals and scientists from the sector.
Arumgam said that carbon capture has a “big future” and that Israel has the potential to become a global market leader in the sector.
“Don’t wait for new rules. Start now, it’s about learning through doing,” he said.
Carbon sequestration technologies are still at an early stage of development globally but the interest in the sector is increasing. Over 20 companies in Israel currently work on different carbon capture and storage projects, Maya Jacobs, environmental activist and one of the organizers of the conference, said.
During the event, climate entrepreneurs showcased different projects such as deep-sea cultivation of seaweed that captures CO2 for photosynthesis, as well as conversion of biodegradable waste into biochar, a type of coal that can nourish soils.
According to Arumgal, two projects showed particularly big international potential. Those were Netafim’s irrigation system for rice and Albo Climate’s project on analyzing satellite images with deep learning to map, measure and oversee CO2 sequestration.
“Currently, monitoring has to be physical,” he told The Times of Israel. “You need to take a sample (for example, of soil), go to a lab and it costs a huge amount of money in terms of the transaction cost. If newly available imaging tech can bring down costs, it will pave the way for people to use carbon markets on a larger scale and that’s where I believe you [Israel] can be a one-stop-shop solution for monitoring carbon emissions worldwide.”
The goal of the conference was to set the foundations of a carbon sequestration community in Israel, said Gideon Behar, the country’s Special Envoy for Climate Change and Sustainability at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Such a community will play an important role in understanding the great potential of the sector.
According to conference participants, Israel does not have a systematic policy on carbon capture at present time.