We are delighted to provide you with discussion topics for your Shabbat table, shared with us by Jewish Environmental organisations.
Leket Israel, the National Food Bank, is the leading food rescue organisation in Israel. Unique among all other organisations that serve the poor in Israel and food banks worldwide, Leket Israel’s sole focus is rescuing healthy, surplus food and delivering it to those in need through partner nonprofit organizations.
The National Food Waste and Rescue Report by Leket Israel, in partnership – for the first time – with Israel’s Ministry of Environmental Protection. The report is intended to serve as the foundation for public discourse on the problem of food waste, and as a tool for developing national policy measures to change how food waste and rescue are handled in Israel.
Right to Food –exploring new ways to talk about social justice
By Mia Hasenson-Gross, Executive Director of René Cassin
One of the Jewish Community’s greatest strengths is its commitment to charity. For decades, synagogues, youth movements and Jewish businesses have been collecting food donations for those in need. These acts of chesed (loving kindness) are not just about practically fulfilling needs but have ingrained within them practices of compassion and community building.
Despite being one of the richest countries in the world, nearly eight and a half million adults and children living in the UK struggle to access the food they need. Unsurprisingly, the Covid-19 pandemic has driven up these numbers, causing a sharp rise in the number of families relying o n food banks to feed themselves sand their children.
Food sits at the heart of Judaism. We carry in our rich Jewish texts and values a duty to care for those who do not have access to food. Access to nutritious food is a human right. René Cassin, the Jewish voice for human rights, joined the Right to Food movement because the work honours the role of food collection a nd tzedakah but takes it one step further.
Understanding the Right to Food as an issue of human rights and social justice requires us to make a commitment to look beyond the food bank for long-term, sustainable methods to inequality and growing food injustice. As the gap between wages, benefits and food costs continue to grow, we cannot permit food banks to become substitutes for a comprehensive social security system. We must find structural ways to ensure the Right to Food can be enjoyed by all.
In a world still grappling with both the causes and effects of the financial crisis, in the grip of a pandemic exposing deep-seated injustices, and yet properly to address the existential threat of climate change, now is the time to real ise the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ vision of what constitutes a just society.
According to Article 25 of Declaration “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family…”. Ensuring everyone has access to food relies as much on acts of human kindness and chesed as it does on ensuring adequate, sustainable and viable means to produce and grow food.
Bringing together issues such as the right to food, climate and sustainability will aid a renewed focus on the relevance and importance of a social justice agenda that guides us in our day to day. It is by promoting this common ground, based on hope for a fairer and sustainable future, that real positive change with be achieved.
According to the Rambam, there are eight level of giving to charity, with each level higher than the preceding one . The tallest step of the ladder is enabling those less fortunate to become self-sufficient, ensuring they no longer have to rely on other’s gifts and donations. This vision helps inform our work, as we hope to achieve a world where the means to lead a fulfilling life a guaranteed to all.
René Cassin is committed to setting up a Jewish Food Rights Alliance that will champion a united Jewish voice on the right to access healthy and adequate food.
Climate and migration
Q: How do changes in the climate cause migration
A: There are many different reasons why people may migrate due to the changing climate:
- loss of livelihoods
- reducing availability of food and water
- climate-related disasters becoming more intense or more regular
- environment becoming uninhabitable (e.g. sea level rise threatening existence of Pacific islands, temperatures or air pollution becoming high for humans to survive in certain cities)
- The changing climate can also create opportunities, which may attract people to move
Q: What patterns of migration are we seeing due to the climate crisis?
A: The media often reports that the climate crisis will drive a new ‘mass migration’, where huge numbers of people will move from countries with high levels of poverty, conflict, and climate-related disasters, to wealthier countries. But in reality, climate-migration is much more complex.
- temporary, short distance movements during a climate-related disaster, or permanent movements to seek better economic opportunities and safer environments
- internal migration within the same country, or international migration
- voluntary migration where people take a proactive decision to move towards opportunities, or involuntary migration where people are forced to move for their own safety (also called ‘displacement’)
- ‘Trapped populations’ – people who are unable to migrate because of: financial barriers, social barriers (gender, age), legal barriers, conflict, lack of alternative opportunities, or lack of information about where and how to move.
- It is important to think critically about how the media and politicians report on this very complex issue – particularly when the idea of a ‘mass migration’ is linked to debates around illegality and national security
Q: How many people are migrating because of the climate crisis?
A: The number is difficult to measure. People typically migrate for multiple reasons so it is difficult to quantify how often climate concerns are the main reason, plus data is often lacking on people that have moved internally, particularly during emergencies or conflict situations. However, we do know that:
- Over the past decade (2010–2019), climate-related disasters triggered approximately 23.1 million displacements of people on average each year. (This is twice as much as triggered by conflict and violence)
- The overwhelming majority of climate migration happens internally, within countries in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia. When people do cross international borders, they mostly move to neighbouring counties. Only a small proportion of people move to wealthier nations.
- Projections for how climate migration will evolve over time are even more controversial. Commonly cited estimates for climate migration vary significantly, from 50 million to 150 million people by 2050
Q: What risks are faced by people migrating due to the climate crisis?
- physical dangers during the journey, or when they arrive in a new area/country. These may include exposure to further climate-related disasters or violence and lack of access to basic needs such as food, water and healthcare.
- Climate migrants often struggle to receive protection of their human rights. While the term ‘climate refugees’ is often used to describe people who are involuntary displaced due to the climate crisis, it is not officially recognised in international law.
- This means that climate migrants may struggle to access citizenship, residency, economic opportunities, healthcare and so on.
- Climate migrants may also face losses of community, culture, and heritage.
If you would like to read more:
- Landmark report on the complex links between climate and migration: https://www.carefrance.org/ressources/themas/1/2755,WTRF_report_lowres.pdf
- Leading UN database on migration with data and publications: https://gmdac.iom.int/
- Research and advocacy on climate-migration policy issues: https://climatemigration.org.uk/
- UN agency for refugees: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/065d18218b654c798ae9f360a626d903
Climate justice: Who is responsible for and who is impacted by the climate crisis?
Q: Who is responsible for emissions?
- Total greenhouse gas emissions vary greatly between different countries. Generally, the largest emitters are the wealthier nations that industrialised earlier such as Europe, North America and Australia, or those that have undergone rapid industrial expansion in recent years, such as China and India.
- Total cumulative CO2 emissions from 1750 to 2019, in tonnes:
- However, there are different metrics for comparing which countries bear greater responsibility: total cumulative historical emissions like above, total annual emissions now, annual emissions per person, annual emissions in relation to economic growth.
- Governments typically argue that they should be permitted to have higher emissions if they have a larger population, or if they have not yet benefited from the economic growth that wealthier nations have gained from various emission producing activities.
- We can also compare the responsibility of different sectors. Greenhouse gas emissions come mostly from: energy (73%), agriculture (18%), industry (5%), waste (3%).
- Finally, we can see which of our own lifestyle choices are contributing to the problem. For example, driving high emission vehicles, consuming meat, using electronic goods, and failing to recycle, are all choices that contribute to the four highest emission sectors.
Q: Which people are most impacted by the climate crisis?
- The people that will suffer the most as a result of the climate crisis are not those who are most responsible for the emissions that have caused it. Generally, the most affected people can be split into two groups:
- People who live in areas that will be highly affected:
- Small islands that will be devastated by sea level rise, e.g. in the Pacific
- Arid areas (particularly where people are dependent on agriculture)
- Low lying areas near coasts or flood plains
- Cities in hot countries (due to risk of extreme heatwaves with limited infrastructure)
- People who are more vulnerable to disruptions to livelihoods and health:
- People living in poverty
- Marginalized people, e.g. religious or ethnic minorities, indigenous populations
- Women and girls, people with disabilities, older people
Q: Are those that have caused greenhouse gas emissions taking responsibility for the climate crisis?
- By the 1960s, warming was already being observed, and linked to emissions. Over the next few decades, projections about how the climate would change became more certain. However, the most responsible countries and sectors have been to slow to reduce their emissions.
- Politicians and industries have deliberately promoted climate change scepticism, to prevent the public from calling upon them to change and to protect their profitability.
- On the other hand, environmental campaigns and international diplomacy have been used to attempt to limit emissions. Recent examples include the Schools Strike for Climate, and
- and the Paris Agreement, where countries committed to reducing emissions.
- Watch out for COP-26, which is coming up in November. This is the latest annual meeting of governments to negotiate on national emission reduction targets, and discuss ‘Loss and Damage’, by which countries most affected by the climate crisis aim to quantify how much their economies have been damaged. This will be really important moving forward as governments debate how much support the wealthier nations now owe to the affected countries.
If you would like to read more:
Databases on greenhouse gas emissions by country