CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Fossil fuels and Gaza’s future

20 June, 2019

• I FIND the points made by the Extinction Rebellion open letter to Sir Keir Starmer MP very timely and essentially vital to global future, (Climate change is an emergency that won’t wait, June 6).

In particular I am interested in the line: “Legislation for fossil fuel companies to have health warnings on their advertising and products (like tobacco) and divest in such companies”.

Although the point seems to address mainly western companies it is also highly applicable to underdeveloped communities which largely depend on big corporations for their supply of fossil fuel and non-renewable energy.

A case in point is the besieged community of Gaza. In the aftermath of Israel’s assault on Gaza (July/August 2014), solutions have started to emerge in the form of community-based efforts of restoring the ruined infrastructure and the damaged electricity grid, water and sewerage systems in Gaza.

An article, published in The Ecologist, by Professor Keith Barnham of Imperial College (Gaza -Renewable Energy for Just and Durable Peace September 2014) outlines a plan for Gaza that is based on a massive deployment of solar and wind power generation.

Professor Barnham also highlights the environmental, political, economic, and social benefits which solar, wind power, and biogas (waste) energy are likely to bring to Gaza Strip.

Indeed Gaza has already been using solar energy in both public building (for example, hospitals, schools, mosques), and residential properties. According to another publication, Gaza is an excellent source for producing solar energy as it reportedly has 300 days of sun per year.

However, so far, the production of solar energy in Gaza is not connected to the main grid whose electricity supply mainly comes from Israel and Egypt (about 35 per cent each), and from the bombed and damaged power plant of Gaza (30 per cent).

Professor Barnham argues that: “In addition to providing power that is not dependent on fossil fuel imports or supply from Israel, another important function of the electricity will be to provide clean, pumped water. This will be vital to avoid epidemics and further despair for the population of Gaza.

“The electricity generation from renewables, rather than from imported fossil fuels, clearly offers benefits for the West Bank and Israel itself… Renewable technology can help break through the fear and hatred on both sides and create conditions for the fully mandated negotiations that offer the only lasting solution to this 67-year-old conflict”.

Furthermore in his article Professor Barnham advances some very realistic suggestions for lifting the blockade on Gaza and regenerating its economy through the development and access of renewable technology into the strip.

Those include:

1. Recognition of Hamas by western governments.

2. UN-organised and monitored fresh elections in Gaza Strip and the West Bank (the last election in the OPT, Occupied Palestinian Territory, took place in 2006) thus offering the Palestinians the chance to elect a government of their choice which is to be respected by western states.

3. Mandating the elected government’s representatives to negotiate a long-term peace treaty with Israel, under UN verification, which would include the lifting of the blockade and allow renewable technology into Gaza.

4. Independently monitor the agreed ceasefire by UN observers who would be stationed on the borders inside Gaza as well as being present at border crossings and sea to secure the lifting of the siege on Gaza.

The reconstruction of Gaza and its infrastructure may not be considered as a priority by the west.

Yet Professor Barnham’s strategy and plan of using sustainable, low-base solar, wind, and waste technology for the economic revival and restoration of Gaza’s damaged infrastructure, is going a long way towards securing a future of self-dependency for Gaza.

In his words: “Fundamentally, the conflict is about who owns the land, trees, water and holy sites. But no one owns the wind above the land and the sunlight falling on the land.”

RUTH TENNE
NW6

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