While the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s war in Ukraine will be the focus of the World Economic Forum, which brings together business and government leaders, there will also be climate change. It has attracted worldwide attention in inconspicuous and destructive ways.
Accelerate the rise in temperature, fury and high cost of major weather phenomena as well impactespecially about people in developing countries, pushed the problem from science to something that affects all aspects of life, including (or perhaps especially) business and economics.
Of the approximately 270 panels Monday through Thursday, one-third is about climate change or its direct consequences. U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry, Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nacate and Alok Sharma, president of last year’s COP26 International Climate Conference, are among the climate leaders expected in the Swiss resort town of Davos.
At the first personal meeting of the forum in two years, climate panels are no less diverse than the topic. They range from tackling “environmental alarms” to helping countries with loans to finance the transition to renewables. Here’s a look at some of the broader topics that are likely to emerge:
ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL, GOVERNANCE
Several panels will struggle with an investment approach that takes into account the environment and other key factors. Known by the acronym ESG, it has become a force, with trillions of dollars invested in companies that meet certain criteria.
When it comes to climate change, ESG can be important. For individual investors, down to firms and government agencies that analyze how companies operate, disclosure and public declarations are paramount. They can be the basis for assessing a company’s emissions, environmental impact and financial risks associated with climate change.
They are also controversial and raise questions: should some declarations be mandatory? Should they be standardized and regulated and by whom? Or the ESG movement has already gone too far, ultimately hindering investment and virtually unrestrained greenhouse gas emissions?
Perspectives are sometimes divided along political lines. In the U.S., many Republicans call them “awake,” while many leftists, especially environmentalists and campaign activists, argue that increased accountability and transparency could lead to real change.
Many managers of some of the world’s largest mutual funds argue that the ESG is important for risk assessment. Just last week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the approach “was armed with fake social justice warriors”.
ENERGY TRANSITION AND “CLEAN ZERO”
Leading global climatologists warn that significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions this decade are needed to minimize warming and avoid the most devastating consequences for the planet. This will require major changes in the way businesses are conducted, from the way products are produced to the way they are transported.
Several panels will address areas where businesses have successfully shifted most of their energy portfolio to renewable energy, the role of finance and government in stimulating or making changes, and business accountability strategies. Despite the heightened awareness and promises of businesses, emissions are rising worldwide.
“The transition of the climate debate from ambition to realization” is the title of one panel that summarizes a huge problem.
The sessions will focus on sectors such as the decarbonisation of shipping and aviation, plans to move to renewables and the challenges of achieving them in countries such as China and India. A strategy that ensures inclusiveness of major shifts and takes into account people in historically marginalized countries who are experiencing some of the most intense effects of climate change will be discussed.
An important part of all the discussions will be the definition of what is “pure zero” and what is not, if you look at the promises of companies and countries. Switching from fossil fuels such as coal and oil to renewables such as solar and wind can reduce emissions and bring the company closer to the goal of releasing equal amounts of emissions from the atmosphere as it enters.
But switching to renewable energy is often only a small part of the company’s plans. Many are counting on balancing them carbon footprint by investing in reforestation or other projects. Although better than nothing, experts note that dependence on carbon offset does not represent a shift in business practice.
THE WAR IN UKRAINE AND THE FUTURE OF ENERGY
Russia’s war in Ukraine will be manifested at the conference. When it comes to climate change, the conflict raises two main questions: how should countries respond to energy shocks from cutting or cutting off Russian oil and gas? And will the war speed up the transition to renewable energy or help fossil fuel companies maintain the status quo?
Since the beginning of the war, there has been a shortage of business, environmentalists and political leaders who have tried to influence the answers to these questions, which will be transferred to Davos.
“Energy Security and the European Green Treaty” is one of the panels whose participants are expected to argue that the way forward is beyond fossil fuels. But European countries, some of which are heavily dependent on Russia for energy, are also seeking to find other sources of natural gas and oil to meet short-term needs.
While no sessions clearly justify doubling the reliance on fossil fuels or the expansion of mining or exploration, if the last few months are some kind of guide, these views will certainly be present.
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Citation: What are the main climate issues in Davos? (May 22, 2022) Retrieved May 22, 2022, from https://phys.org/news/2022-05-key-climate-themes-davos.html
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