DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — The Latest on the World Economic Forum gathering in Davos, Switzerland:
Prominent climate activists including Greta Thunberg and Vanessa Nakate are condemning corporate VIPs and political leaders in Davos, Switzerland, for prioritizing short-term profits from fossil fuels over people affected by the climate crisis.
They were joined by campaigners Helena Gualinga and Luisa Neubauer and International Energy Agency Executive Director Fatih Birol at a roundtable Thursday at the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering.
Nakate, who at one point choked up, said that “leaders are playing games” with people’s futures. She added that the effects of climate change are “already a living hell for many communities across the African continent, across the Global South” who are facing extreme drought, heat and flooding.
The activists brought a “cease and desist” letter calling on fossil fuel companies to stop all new oil and natural gas projects, signed by nearly 900,000 people.
Scientists say no new fossil fuel projects can be built if the world is to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) in line with climate goals set in Paris in 2015.
Thunberg added that without persistent public pressure corporations will continue to “throw people under bus for their own gain.”
In a discussion on climate finance that focused on the lack of common standards, the head of the International Monetary Fund compared the world’s current trajectory to being on the Titanic.
IMG Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said Thursday at the World Economic Forum gathering in Davos, Switzerland, that while there are “a couple of bright spots on the horizon,” this was “not good enough.”
She warned that when it came to designing universal standards for green finance, “the perfect is the enemy of the good.”
A global set of minimum benchmarks on, for example, corporate emissions disclosures would reduce the scope for companies to police themselves and engage in greenwashing. Without common standards, companies will be able to continue burying bad news or defining their emissions disclosures to give a more favorable impression.
She says “Europe can be a leader bringing us together on common standards.”
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European leaders say they are working with the U.S. on issues over subsidies for American-made green technology but that dealing with trade tensions with China is more difficult.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Thursday on a panel session about European growth at the World Economic Forum gathering in Davos, Switzerland, that “the main issue in Europe is we have no coordinated China policy.”
He says that “it’s not that we have to choose between the U.S. and China. We need to have our own policy. And our own policy should be, first of all, that we have the mindset that we want to be a player and not a playing field.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen presented a major clean tech industrial plan earlier this week at Davos for that would ease the way for subsidies for green industries and pool EU-wide projects that are boosted with major funding.
It aims to bolster the 27-nation bloc’s push for climate neutrality by 2050 and guarantee its economic survival as it faces challenges from China and the U.S.
EU Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis says the concerns about the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act’s funding for “made-in-America” green technology — like electric vehicles — is that “it’s done in a discriminatory way.”
He says it’s not helping to build trans-Atlantic value chains but actually severing them.
But he noted that EU-U.S. task force has “a satisfactory solution on clean vehicles tax credits. But there are many other areas which we need to address.”
On China, Rutte says offers a huge innovation base and potential but “at the same time, we have legitimate security concerns.” He says it’s important to keep the Western edge in industries like semiconductors, which can be used in defense systems.
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic noted that “there’s a big difference between China and Russia.” He says that with China, he doesn’t “see a similar pattern of threats that would endanger our economy, our way of life and our security.”
Key European leaders see improvements in expectations for the economy this year in the face of high inflation and Russia’s war in Ukraine but warn that there is more work to do.
European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said Thursday on a panel session about European growth at the World Economic Forum gathering in Davos, Switzerland, that activity “is declining compared with an excellent 2022.” She says expected economic growth of 0.5% in 2023 is “not a brilliant year, but it is a lot better than what we had feared.”
Inflation is still high — reaching 9.2% in December — so she says the bank will keep raising interest rates to get it under control. Inflation has been fed by high energy prices after Russia largely cut off natural gas to Europe amid the war in Ukraine.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte also worried about inflation and praised the bank for doing the right thing.
European Union Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis pointed to how well energy relief for households and businesses targeted. He says around 70% of the support measures are not targeted, which feeds into inflation.
He and Rutte say Europe needs to concentrate on building energy security, focusing on the transition to renewables.
Rutte urged bringing down government borrowing — saying it is too high in Italy, France and other countries — because it is hurting long-term economic growth. To do that, he says changes to the pension sector are difficult but necessary, adding “I’m happy that the French have now decided to to move on the pension issue.”
French workers angry over proposed changes to pension rules that would push back the retirement age are holding nationwide strikes and protests Thursday.
Nadir Godrej, chairman of Indian company Godrej Industries, limited presented a poem instead of speech during a panel session at the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering.
Godrej launched into a more than six-minute-long poem with the phrase: “It is no longer climate change within a tolerable change, a crisis is what it’s about with fires, floods as well as drought.”
The poem presented Thursday in Davos, Switzerland, details the work his organization has done on blue carbon projects and his views on the climate crisis and action needed in general.
Blue carbon refers to carbon captured by the world’s oceans and coastal ecosystems. Despite occupying only about 5% of land area, coastal wetlands store about 50% of all carbon buried in ocean sediments.
A plethora of restoration projects have been launched in recent years to restore coastal ecosystems, especially mangrove forests that are highly effective carbon sinks.
Virginijus Sinkevicius, the European Union’s commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, said on the panel that “without a blue there is no green.
She says “we must ensure that the ocean ecosystems remain healthy” and said a deal to protect 30% of land and water considered important for biodiversity by 2030 plays a key role.
Countries committed to the agreement at the United Nations Biodiversity Conference, or COP15, that was held at Montreal in December last year.
The Montreal deal is considered the most significant effort yet to protect the world’s lands and oceans and provide critical financing to save biodiversity in the developing world.
Pfizer’s chief executive says the biggest challenge the company and other vaccine-makers faced during the pandemic was negotiating the politics.
Albert Bourla, who was speaking Thursday on a panel on pandemic preparedness at the World Economic Forum gathering in Davos, Switzerland, said mask-wearing, vaccine efficacy or questions about delivering the vaccines were all politicized and were constant obstacles for vaccine-makers.
He says “the biggest challenge … was the political challenge.”
He added that protectionism as a result of fear meant the governments closed down borders, making it difficult to export vaccines or bring in raw materials needed to make them.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair made the distinction between the “forgivable” politics of government leaders trying to vaccinate their own population when an election was beckoning and the “unforgivable” politics of politicizing public health.
He says turning mask-wearing into a political issue was “unforgivable and stupid.”
Blair added that for most countries, the virus had receded into the “rear-view mirror” and the only way to keep the focus on it was to convince politicians that “there are votes in it.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has bared his frustration about not obtaining enough tanks from some Western countries to help Ukraine’s defend against Russian forces.
The Ukrainian leader, at a breakfast Thursday on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland, offered a veiled critique of countries like Germany, Poland and the United States — crucial supporters of Ukraine — that have nonetheless hesitated about sending tanks.
Speaking by video link, Zelenskyy bemoaned a “lack of specific weaponry” and said that to win the war, “we cannot just do it with motivation and morale.”
Through an interpreter, he told the Victor Pinchuk Foundation breakfast that “I would like to thank again for the assistance from our partners. But at the same time, there are times where we shouldn’t hesitate or we shouldn’t compare when someone says, ‘I will give tanks if someone else will also share his tanks.’”
Zelenskyy also said air defense was “our weakness” in light of targeted Russian strikes, including use of Iranian-made drones, and reiterated his call for supplies of long-range artillery to fire at Russian forces in Ukrainian territory — not fire into Russia itself.
Ukraine has for months sought to be supplied with heavier tanks, including the U.S. Abrams and the German-made Leopard 2 tanks, but Western leaders have been treading carefully.
The United Kingdom announced last week that it will send Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine, and France has said it would send AMX-10 RC armored combat vehicles to Ukraine, designated “light tanks” in French.
Poland and the Czech Republic have provided Soviet-era T-72 tanks to Ukrainian forces. Poland has expressed readiness to provide a company of Leopard tanks but has said it would only do so as part of a larger international coalition of tank aid to Kyiv.
Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who attended the breakfast, said, “Get them the tanks, get Volodymyr Zelenskyy whatever he needs.”
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