Saturday, 26 January 2019

Climate change @ Davos

Fancy a flight to Davos? 

WEF defends jet-setting elites amid climate change agenda

Chloe Taylor


More than 250 private jet flights transported Davos attendees to Switzerland between Sunday and Tuesday, according to data.

An alternative analysis from airline Air Charter Service estimates the number for the entire week will be closer to 1,500.

The WEF claimed it would offset carbon emissions for all flights made to its annual meeting.

Students taking part in a "School Strike for Climate" outside the Davos Congress Centre yesterday. Aside from climate change, inequality and youth unemployment also featured in the final discussion of this year's World Economic Forum. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

JAN 26, 2019

DAVOS • Climate change topped the discussion at the closing session of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in the Swiss Alps, just as it had dominated the rest of the four-day event.

"Climate change is happening faster than we thought it would," World Bank chief executive officer Kristalina Georgieva told the world's political and business elite yesterday, the WEF said in a media statement.

She called on governments and businesses to eliminate harmful subsidies for energy and agriculture, invest in shifting to a low-carbon economy, support those countries most at risk of the consequences of climate change, and relentlessly pursue a price for carbon.

Surface temperatures have already risen by nearly 1 deg C and they are not stopping, with the five warmest years on record occurring since 2010. A rise of 3 deg C will wipe out 25 per cent of global gross domestic product, while the cost in human suffering will be immeasurable, according to the World Bank.

The warning from the World Bank came a day after United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the business and political leaders gathered at the Swiss town of Davos that climate change is "the most important global systemic threat in relation to the global economy". He said: "Climate change is running faster than we are. I believe we are losing the race."

Climate change dominates discussion on last day, World News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Besides the private jets, there have been two stories which have caught the public imagination.

Firstly, David Attenborough has been vocal at another international gathering - at the UN conference on climate change in Poland last month:
Futures Forum: Climate change: "our greatest threat"
Futures Forum: Climate change: "The built environment is part of the problem, but through the potential of planning, architecture and design, it is also a crucial part of the solution"

And he was vocal once more, at Davos this week: 


David Attenborough warns of damage humans can do ‘without even noticing’ – video | Business | The Guardian
Duke of Cambridge turns interviewer as he quizzes Sir David Attenborough at Davos - Telegraph
Davos 2019: David Attenborough issues stark warning about future of civilisation as he demands ‘practical solutions’ to combat climate change | The Independent

And secondly, Greta Thunberg, a schoolgirl from Sweden, has been making waves:
Futures Forum: Climate change: "our greatest threat"
Futures Forum: Climate change: "there is a sense of a new consciousness abroad concerning the future of our planet"

She addressed Davos delegates directly last week:
Davos 2019: Swedish teenage activist tells global elite they are to blame for climate change | The Independent

Here is her speech: 

'Our house is on fire': Greta Thunberg, 16, urges leaders to act on climate

Greta Thunberg

Swedish school strike activist demands economists tackle runaway global warming. Read her Davos speech here

'I want you to panic': 16-year-old issues climate warning at Davos - YouTube

Our house is on fire. I am here to say, our house is on fire.

According to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), we are less than 12 years away from not being able to undo our mistakes. In that time, unprecedented changes in all aspects of society need to have taken place, including a reduction of our CO2 emissions by at least 50%.

And please note that those numbers do not include the aspect of equity, which is absolutely necessary to make the Paris agreement work on a global scale. Nor does it include tipping points or feedback loops like the extremely powerful methane gas released from the thawing Arctic permafrost.

At places like Davos, people like to tell success stories. But their financial success has come with an unthinkable price tag. And on climate change, we have to acknowledge we have failed. All political movements in their present form have done so, and the media has failed to create broad public awareness.

But Homo sapiens have not yet failed.

Yes, we are failing, but there is still time to turn everything around. We can still fix this. We still have everything in our own hands. But unless we recognise the overall failures of our current systems, we most probably don’t stand a chance.

We are facing a disaster of unspoken sufferings for enormous amounts of people. And now is not the time for speaking politely or focusing on what we can or cannot say. Now is the time to speak clearly.

Solving the climate crisis is the greatest and most complex challenge that Homo sapiens have ever faced. The main solution, however, is so simple that even a small child can understand it. We have to stop our emissions of greenhouse gases.

Either we do that or we don’t.

You say nothing in life is black or white. But that is a lie. A very dangerous lie. Either we prevent 1.5C of warming or we don’t. Either we avoid setting off that irreversible chain reaction beyond human control or we don’t.

Either we choose to go on as a civilisation or we don’t. That is as black or white as it gets. There are no grey areas when it comes to survival.

We all have a choice. We can create transformational action that will safeguard the living conditions for future generations. Or we can continue with our business as usual and fail.

That is up to you and me.

Some say we should not engage in activism. Instead we should leave everything to our politicians and just vote for a change instead. But what do we do when there is no political will? What do we do when the politics needed are nowhere in sight?

Here in Davos – just like everywhere else – everyone is talking about money. It seems money and growth are our only main concerns.

And since the climate crisis has never once been treated as a crisis, people are simply not aware of the full consequences on our everyday life. People are not aware that there is such a thing as a carbon budget, and just how incredibly small that remaining carbon budget is. That needs to change today.

No other current challenge can match the importance of establishing a wide, public awareness and understanding of our rapidly disappearing carbon budget, that should and must become our new global currency and the very heart of our future and present economics.

We are at a time in history where everyone with any insight of the climate crisis that threatens our civilisation – and the entire biosphere – must speak out in clear language, no matter how uncomfortable and unprofitable that may be.

We must change almost everything in our current societies. The bigger your carbon footprint, the bigger your moral duty. The bigger your platform, the bigger your responsibility.

Adults keep saying: “We owe it to the young people to give them hope.” But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.

I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.

This is an edited version of a speech given by Greta Thunberg at Davos this week.

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