Some of the world’s most powerful people gathered for the annual World Economic Forum that kicked off today in Davos, Switzerland. The invitation-only event has been criticized as a gathering of the world’s elite. Many attendees use the opportunity to privately agree investments and business deals.
All eyes will be on US’ president Donald Trump. He is expected to speak together with German economist Klaus Schwab, who founded the forum in 1971. The same day, the US Senate will start a trial to decide whether Trump should be removed from office, following an impeachment procedure.
US treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin will present his views on the most important things in US economy, such as the newly signed Phase One deal with China, and the digital tax.
Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei is expected to talk about the future of the tech arms race. He will also talk about his CEO daughter Meng Wanzhou, who is wanted by US authorities for alleged fraud in attempting to circumvent Washington’s sanctions against Iran. She denies the allegations, on the basis that her alleged conduct was not illegal at the time in Canada.
UK prime minister Boris Johnson is not attending. He has banned most other ministers from attending, and instead told them they should be focused on delivering for the people of the UK.
Following a year of extreme weather, climate change is among the key topics of the summit, which started as an economic forum, but later evolved in an event for policymakers and activists. Young climate activist Greta Thunberg is one of the main speakers this year.
Schwab has previously written to the attendees, and urged them to commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. “The world is now on track to warm by more than 3°C, blowing past what scientists say is a level required to avoid potentially catastrophic consequences. There’s no sign GHG emissions are peaking, states the UN, and every year of delay makes future reductions more difficult and drastic with potential damages measured in the trillions of dollars”, the WEF said in a statement.
Protesters against the lack of climate action have started a three-day hike from Landquart en route to Davos to raise awareness of global warming.
Greenpeace announced that some of the world’s biggest banks and funds have collectively invested $1.4 trillion in fossil fuel companies since the Paris climate deal. As carbon emissions are growing every year with the increased energy demand, it accused some institutions of failing to live up to the Forum’s goal of improving the state of the world.
“Banks, insurers and pension funds are as culpable for the climate emergency as the fossil fuel industry, specifically those that go to Davos. These Davos players say they support the Paris agreement but since its signing they’ve pumped $1.4 trillion into fossil fuels”, warned Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace.