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Friday, 22 January 2021

Fears for planet to dominate "green" Davos

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Fears for planet to dominate 'green' Davos
Fears for planet to dominate "green" Davos

Climate change and environmental destruction are among the top concerns of world decision-makers as they pack their bags and head for next week's World Economic Forum in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos.

David Pollard reports.

It's been snowing in Davos, the Swiss resort that hosts the World Economic Forum or "WEF" next week.

But that's the local climate.

Globally, the last year has been a story of floods, wildfires and catastrophic weather events that have put climate change at the head of the agenda.

For the first time, the top five concerns listed in the WEF annual risk report are all environmental.

Ranging from climate to biodiversity and the danger of one-off disasters, like oil spills.

Helping present the report ahead of the Forum was Emily Farnworth, WEF Head of Climate Change Initiatives.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) WEF HEAD OF CLIMATE CHANGE INITIATIVES, EMILY FARNWORTH, SAYING: "Maybe a few years ago, when people were talking about the impacts of climate change, that was one thing.

It was a theory.

But I think what we're now seeing is the actual, kind of, reality of what it means." What it means for governments, she says, is them becoming more aware.

Leading economies are behind on pledges to cut carbon emissions.

And business has been slow to wake up to the dangers.

Though that could be changing.

Just take a look at Goldman Sachs' website front page.

It tells a story of targets for three quarters of a trillion dollars of investment in eco-friendly development.

Or BlackRock, whose seven trillion dollars worth of assets make it the world's largest asset manager.

This week's annual letter from boss Larry Fink warned his firm could end investments that jeopardise the environment.

According to Reuters Breakingviews columnist, George Hay, it mirrors an underlying financial concern too about the impact of climate change.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): GEORGE HAY, COLUMNIST, REUTERS BREAKINGVIEWS, SAYING: "From a market perspective, if investors think this is going to happen anytime in the near future, they're going to reprice the assets now.

So if you're BlackRock, it's a massive problem for you, because you invest in pretty much every company in the world, and therefore you have got to have that front and centre in your mind." Sceptics may say all of this is empty talk.

"Virtue-signalling' or "greenwashing" or however businesses may spin it.

But "sustainability" will be the top theme of this year's WEF meeting.

Before global warming melts the snows of Davos for good ..

Its jetsetting elite are eager to show they're part of the solution, not the problem.


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