Viewpoint: With a clean energy system, some of the suffering in Gaza could have been prevented
By Anders Lorenzen
This article is not going into nor is it taking sides in the rapidly and tragic escalating conflict in Israel and Palestine.
Both Gaza and the West Bank, the Palestine territories, are incredibly energy-poor and have no energy production and thus rely 100% on energy imports.
What has been exemplified through this latest escalation between the terrorist organisation that controls the Gaza Strip, Hamas, and Israel is that the people of Palestine have been paying a heavy price due to Israel halting energy exports, the only power station Gaza Power Station, who runs on diesel generators have had to shut down. As a result, critical infrastructure such as hospitals have been unable to run properly.
In previous escalations, Israel has also hit the power station with missiles and air strikes bringing it out of action.
On the other hand, Iran wants to put in place an oil embargo on Israel.
Fossil fuels and conflicts
These events just illustrate how big a role fossil fuels play in conflicts and aiding them. This is of course not to suggest that wars and conflicts would go away with a clean energy system, but it would eliminate some of the weaponry elements that could deployed.
In some of the world’s poorest countries ravaged by wars and conflicts and also severely impacted by climate change, a question that often comes up is when is the right time to rebuild and or update infrastructure and energy systems. Rightly so it is not of the top priorities when you don’t know how long it would be if you invest in new energy infrastructure before that is destroyed by another attack, especially when finance is an issue.
But that’s where global partners should offer a helping hand. The United Nations (UN), the US and the European Union (EU) should look at the recent crisis and see energy as a critical priority in Palestine and should spearhead and fund renewable energy projects. UN-backed projects like this decentralised solar project are a great beginning, but much more should be happening.
Decentralised solar with some storage capacity would, in present conditions, be the ideal technology to produce a consistent flow of electricity as it could be spread around the Gaza Strip meaning it would not be able to be taken out with a single strike and could quickly be repaired if it were to be hit.
Of course, long-term, the priority should absolutely be peace and stability, so the right large-scale clean system, grid and other infrastructure investments can be made.
Climate scientists project that both Israel and Palestine are already experiencing severe climate impacts that will only worsen in the coming years and decades. The difference of course is that Israel can afford and have the security to do something about it, but Palestine as of now cannot.