Climate Agenda likely to Clash with Fossil Fuel Power Elite in Switzerland
At the end of January, world leaders from corporate, banking, and governmental institutions will gather in Davos, Switzerland for the 50th World Economic Forum. The business tycoons, global financers, and politicians will come together on the 21st-24th to discuss policy and business agendas to improve the state of the world from an economic viewpoint. Recently, however, the commercial and political magnates learned that the conference will also be hosting another guest—a far from conventional (but nevertheless influential) one having impact on the world of business.
The new guest is young Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, and she comes on behalf of the environment, urging leaders to abandon fossil fuels and prioritize the climate crisis from humanitarian and fiscal perspectives.
Thunberg announced her forthcoming attendance at Davos in an article for The Guardian on Friday, January 10th. In Thunberg’s signature biting rhetoric, her piece addresses the fact that fossil fuel companies are the leading cause of the climate catastrophe. She writes, “We call upon the world’s leaders to stop investing in the fossil fuel economy that is at the very heart of this planetary crisis. Instead, they should invest their money in existing sustainable technologies, research and in restoring nature. Short-term profit should not trump long-term stability of life.”
2020 Looks to be the Year that the Climate Reality comes Head to Head with Entrenched Interests
These stubborn, profit-driven corporations—many of which will be at the conference—are often the ones that lobby for policies that block environmental reformation towards renewable energy. This year’s conference theme, however, is “stakeholders for a cohesive and sustainable world”. Greta is attending to make sure that the conference lives up to its logline and that the participants do not shortchange the environment for financial benefit.
Greta has appeared at several global climate conferences and rallies over the past couple years. Ever since the seventeen-year-old girl dropped out of school in 2018 to become a climate activist, she has vehemently pressured leaders around the world to take action against global warming and prioritize the planet’s long-term wellbeing. At the end of 2019, she even held the stage at the UN Climate Conference in Madrid.
In Davos, however, she will be talking to a group of monetary-minded professionals. Due to the innate short-termism that often surrounds business self-interest, the discipline is at a crux with the climate crisis. Thus, the conference will provide a very difficult crowd for Thunberg to go up against and influence.
Nevertheless, as any environmentally aware person should know, the climate crisis is no longer a long-term issue. In the 2020s, it is already clear that we are facing contemporary and present cataclysms rather than some distant, hypothetical threat. Furthermore, regardless of temporal scales, when climate change reaches its worst, it will end up costing far more than any preemptive sustainable efforts might amount to if acted on immediately.
Turning the Corner from Recognition of a Crisis to the Search for Solutions
Many feel that 2019 was the year the it became impossible to deny that the climate is in crisis and that the cause is human activity releasing carbon gasses into the atmosphere. Starting in 2020, it now appears, the focus will be squarely on finding ways to stop the cause and, ultimately, to begin an extremely rapid and urgent transition to sustainable energy, which will, by definition, threaten the existing power structure based on fossil fuel business and wealth.
Although massive conflict related to this issue is certain, facing this impasse, from a political, economic and human perspective is as unavoidable as it in imperative. It can only be hoped that a large enough consensus can be built and that the focus can quickly shift away from the conflict and toward a joint effort to find solutions.
As we kick off the new year and decade, it is fitting that the world’s most famous, advocate for sustainable energy, as a way to combat the climate crisis, Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, should be on hand at Davos to demand, for all of us, that a conscious shift away from Fossil Fuels must begin immediately.
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