WEF at Davos 2020: Jan. 21-24

Upon entering the WEF site yesterday, this fascinating video from last year was featured:

A preview of the lofty conference from wsws: ‘Climate change “spin” as Davos gathering confronts mounting environmental and economic crisis’, Nick Beams, 20 January 2020
“The World Economic Forum (WEF), which holds its annual meeting this week in Davos, Switzerland, has tried in recent years to feign concern about the welfare of society as it brings together the ultra-wealthy, government and media representatives and the heads of major corporations to defend the profit system. This year’s gathering is no exception.

In an endeavour to promote the organisation’s “progressive” credentials, WEF founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab has called on corporate chiefs to “show leadership” and commit to achieving zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or sooner. The WEF has lined up a group of climate change activists, including the Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, to address the participants on the need for urgent action.

As a pointed comment by a Financial Times columnist put it: “The hills are alive with the sound of environmental spin.”

The WEF’s own assessments make clear, however, that nothing can or will be done to halt the mounting climate disaster within the framework of the capitalist, nation-state system that the forum defends in the face of rising global social opposition.

In a briefing paper on the zero emissions challenge, the WEF cited a November 2019 report from the United Nations which showed that four years since the Paris Agreement, global emissions had risen by 1.5 percent per year over the past decade, with no signs of peaking. This occurred under conditions where a reduction of 5 percent per year is needed just to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C. If the present trajectory continues, it noted, the world is projected to warm by 3–5 degrees C by the end of the century “with catastrophic effects on human civilization.”

But as the WEF report acknowledged, the deadline is much closer. It stated: “The coming decade will decide whether humanity can achieve the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C. Without a meaningful reduction in emissions in the next five years, the ability to act will increasingly be lost, resulting in damage that could become irreversible.”

The world, it said, needed “cohesive and swift international action.” But this remained “wishful thinking” and so individual governments and corporations “can and should move ahead with unilateral initiatives.” Such a prospect remains as far-fetched as international collaboration.

As the report noted, so far only 67 countries, none of them among the top five emitters, have committed to the goal of achieving net zero carbon emissions. It acknowledged that “most countries with this commitment have not enacted sufficiently robust policies to attain the emissions reductions required.”
The WEF’s call for “stakeholder capitalism” in which corporations, according to Schwab, should act not just as profit-seeking entities but as “trustees of society,” is a pipe dream.
The mounting social and protest movements over global warming are not the only concern of the WEF. Its Global Risks Report points to the downward pressure on the global economy from “macroeconomic fragilities and financial inequality” that continued to intensify throughout 2019, increasing the risk of economic stagnation as “rising trade barriers, lower investment and high debt are straining economies around the world.”

It noted in its assessment of global risks that compounding the economic factors is “widespread discontent with current economic systems, perceived to be rigged and unfair.”

The WEF commented that “Profound citizen discontent—born of disapproval of the way governments are addressing economic and social challenges—has sparked protests throughout the world, potentially weakening the ability of governments to take decisive action should a downturn occur.”

The conclusions are not specifically drawn. But what is being pointed to here is that the kind of “decisive action” taken in 2008–2009, when governments and central banks handed out trillions of dollars to finance capital and imposed austerity conditions on the mass of the population, may provoke mass social opposition and social revolution if repeated in response to another economic and financial collapse. And the signs of such a collapse are becoming ever more apparent.
The picture presented by the WEF’s own analysis is of a socio-economic system heading for catastrophe on every front for which the ruling elites gathered at Davos have no answer and which their policies will exacerbate. It will not be prevented by the fiction of “stakeholder capitalism” but through the enactment of the only realistic agenda: the conscious political struggle of the working class for a higher social order, that is, international socialism.”

From the comments underneath: ‘I co-founded Occupy Wall Street. Now I’m headed to Davos. Why? Rejecting Davos is easy when one hasn’t been invited. Now that I have a chance to go, I want to discover its revolutionary potential, Micah White, theguardian.com, Jan. 18, 2019

This is the main portal to the current meeting of the Masters of the Universe and their token aspirants; WEF: ‘Committed to Improving the State of the World since 1971’) Their Platforms tab is long and full, as is their Agenda tab.

Apparently this year’s theme is: Stakeholders for a cohesive and sustainable world.  Their Live Blog is here; ya won’t want to miss a minute, so scroll on down!

This purports to be ‘Leaked information; ‘The confidential list of everyone attending the 2020 World Economic Forum in D’, qz.com, Jan. 20, 2020, although you need to sign in via email address to unlock it, seemingly for One Peek only.  I did spy one Quatari and one Saudi on the list. Otherwise, cnbc.com has this short list, Jan. 14, 2020

Fascinating, if enigmatic:

Ahead of 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland this week, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that he will not attend the event, according to Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi on Tuesday.

During his weekly press conference while talking to reporters, Mousavi said Zarif was scheduled to attend the Davos meeting, but “they abruptly changed the schedule despite the primary planning and the official invitation”.

Therefore, Zarif will not participate in the forum in Davos.”

 This year’s session on Twitter.

For a further wsws perspective: ‘The oligarchs assemble at Davos’, 21 January 2020, wsws.org, Niels Neimuth, (a squib or three):

“WEF founder Klaus Schwab warned in a statement ahead of the meeting that the world is at a “critical crossroads,” noting that, “People are revolting against the economic ‘elites’ they believe have betrayed them.”

Indeed, the meeting is being held amid a global upsurge of social protest over the past year from Chile and Puerto Rico to Sudan and Algeria, Iraq and Lebanon, Hong Kong and India and the United States and Mexico.

Across the world, protests fueled by growing social and economic inequality are continuing and are expected to grow in 2020, including in France, where the year began with mass strikes against President Emmanuel Macron’s proposed pension cuts.

Ahead of its meeting, the WEF published a global risks report noting that members ranked “domestic political polarization” in a virtual tie as their number one concern, up from ninth last year.

The annual Edleman Trust Barometer survey found that a majority of people around the world think that capitalism is doing more harm than good. The survey noted a global discrediting of all institutions, with governments, the media, business and NGOs seen by masses of people as unethical and incompetent.

Ahead of the event, the British charity Oxfam released its annual report on social inequality, which it declared to be “out of control.”

According to Oxfam, the world’s billionaire population alone, just 2,153 people—the number of people who would fit comfortably on a modern cruise ship—control more wealth than the 4.6 billion poorest people in the world.

Meanwhile, the top 1 percent collectively has twice as much wealth as 6.9 billion people, nearly the entire world’s population.
“Ahead of the event, the British charity Oxfam released its annual report on social inequality, which it declared to be “out of control.”

According to Oxfam, the world’s billionaire population alone, just 2,153 people—the number of people who would fit comfortably on a modern cruise ship—control more wealth than the 4.6 billion poorest people in the world.

Meanwhile, the top 1 percent collectively has twice as much wealth as 6.9 billion people, nearly the entire world’s population.

The theme for this year’s meeting is “Stakeholders for a cohesive and sustainable world,” with a focus on the issue of climate change. Events headlined by teenage activist Greta Thunberg are being given top billing and Britain’s Prince Charles is expected to deliver a talk on “how to save the planet.

The billionaires and millionaires in attendance will be able to show their commitment to combatting global warming by refueling their private jets with “greener” sustainable aviation fuel available at Zurich Airport’s private terminal. Attendees are being encouraged to walk on foot from venue to venue in order to reduce their personal carbon footprint.”

(the rest is here)

(cross-posted at caucus99perecent.com)

13 responses to “WEF at Davos 2020: Jan. 21-24

  1. This is from Raul Ilargi Meijer. I agree with his overall message but not with telling Greta to go home, which solves nothing, for her or anyone else. This is what Ilargi says: “Go Home Greta, I have a lot of sympathy for young(er) people who are upset about what has happened, and still is happening, to the planet they were born on, during their lifetime and that of the generations before them. I have less sympathy for the “climate movement” even if those same young people thinnk it represents them, because it has grown too big and too diverse, and has come to rely (for no reason) too much on hype and exaggeration. Don’t feed your opponent or enemy.

    The movement also has too little attention for what younger people themselves contribute to the descent into chaos. If you don’t start with yourself, how are you ever going to tell others what to do? How many phones and gadgets and cars do you have? Do your clothes also say Made in China? Personal question.

    Naming one’s movement “Extinction Rebellion” strikes me as odd, because the movement appears to be, from what I can see, based almost exclusively on the deleterious effects of carbon emissions, though these have -at least so far- played just a small part in the actual extinction of -far too many- species, much less than the use of chemicals, the loss of forest, and land use in general, just to name some examples.

    I have a lot of sympathy for Greta Thunberg, and I’m sure she means very well. But I have no sympathy for the PR people that she allows to surround her, and who make millions of dollars off of her name and appearances. Nor do I think Greta had grasped at age 16 the full complexity of the systems that have led to what she protests against. Very few adults have either, so that’s hardly her fault.

    I still think, just like I said a year ago when she was first unloaded upon the Davos conference by those same PR people, that not only is there nothing for her there, but her time would be better spent trying to educate herself about that “full complexity”. Because today, it all appears to me to be too much about what she does not want, rather than about what she does, and to a large extent that’s because she simply doesn’t know. Protesting for something is harder than protesting against it.

    Because of all these things, the climate movement is actively though unwittingly helping the rich, who got rich through their use of fossil fuels, to get richer still off of society’s adaptation to a world in which fossil fuels play a smaller role.

    Yes, there are enormous amounts of irony involved in this. People like the idea of a green economy. They like the sound of it. But if you would ask them what it means in practice, they would picture something very close to the present economic system, just green, i.e. powered by electricity instead of fossil fuels.

    And that is nonsense. In the same way that “fossil free” living is utter nonsense, but nevertheless it’s terms like that which are most prominent in headlines. Carbon neutral, carbon free, fossil free, those terms all describe fantasies; they are terms straight out of a PR campaign book. There’s even carbon negative. But who among the activists understand what this means? You got to be careful guys, because the way this is going, you will all end up being accomplices of the very people you should be protesting.

    Here’s what going to happen (and already has), Greta and all of you Greta fans.

    You’re getting to Davos and meet with all these rich people, and they all already have their plans ready. They’re going to tell you that they agree with just about everything you have to say. But they do and they don’t at the same time.

    The fossil fuel industry, along with carmakers, governments et al, have solved the riddle: what appeared at first to be a huge threat to them, now turns out to be their next golden goose: they’re going to get paid more to move away from fossil fuels and emissions than they previously did to produce them. Pretty smart, right?

    Only you will find out not even that is true. Do you know what an electric car produces in pollution, in CO2 emissions? I read the other day that an electric car has to drive 30,000-50,000 km a year over its “lifetime” to pollute less than a petrol one. Details are not terribly important there, it sounds kind of right. Unless you’re in Poland or certain parts of Germany or Eastern Europe, than it’s much higher still. Brown coal.

    How did the rich and the worst polluters do it? How did they solve the riddle? By promoting Greta and the entire climate movement, with the help of the media they own, and then steering their priorities to be in line with their own. Piece of cake for them. They have been among the most powerful forces in western society forever, and it wasn’t too hard for them to figure this one out.

    And that’s why these days, and increasingly as Davos has started (timing is everything), climate is a well advertized topic, and why the likes of BlackRock and Microsoft -and many others- just days ago announced that they will “go green”, divest out of fossil fuels etc.

    They do this because they see a profit to be made. So don’t flatter yourselves, it has nothing to do with you. Or rather, it does, but not the way you thought and wanted. Your worst adversaries are using you for their promotion and advertizing platforms. The more banners you fly, the more words Greta utters, the more governments will make trillion dollar promises, and the more Big Oil will make profits. Like this one today (just one example in fat growing long row):

    • i am so very sorry, but i just lost my entire comment to the ether; dunno what i’d done wrong. but thank you so much, and i will say for now that in the main, i agree with ilargi. more tomorrow, will you forgive me? i’m about played out for the night.

    • my earlier comment was close to this: while i agree with him in the main, especially about the Climate Emergency! declarations, it’s all by way now of Green Capitalism globally by now. i’d clipped in some of the bits at davos re: stakeholder capitalism over yonder (link at the end of this thread)… the idea being that corporations should be ahem…greener, then rule civil society in a more…helpful way.

      but it’s one of the things cory morningstar has tried so hard to explain, as in: follow the profiteering behind greta (likely X rebellion™, i dunno). electric cars? well, i dunno about his take, but green capitalists love electric cars. er…where does the electricity come from at the plug-in stations? that matters! no it doesn’t, i was told at c99%. then of course the batteries, and the the chokehold of lithium (argentina, bolivia, chile, and recently: mexico). “shop your way to Green!”

      same for wind and solar, they do have carbon footprints, but no one really wants to know what that is, but it must be addressed, of course.

      but this is another example of what ilargi means: the prince of wales at davos:

      i’d grabbed the transcript, but this is the main nugget of Green Capitalism and monetizing all of nature, then selling it:

      “One critical lesson that we have to learn is that nature is not a separate asset class, nature is the lifeblood of our financial markets. We must rapidly realign our own economy to mimic nature’s economy and work with it.

      oh, and ilargi has greta and extinction rebellion mixed together, but really, they’re separate from greta’s friday school strikes for climate. and millions of kids did in fact strike…and here we still are. warmer and warmer.the transcript

  2. I made a couple of attempts to post a comment by Raul Ilargi Meijer and one from myself too but they are not appearing.

  3. I just got a christmas/new year card from my cousin in Perth. Heart rending stuff. She says “It is time that Australia accepted that its enemy is bush fires…” Tries to get on to ordinary stuff like making mulberry/apple pies, yum, but somehow fires being out of control on Kangaroo Island cuts through all that. I did read they were getting rain finally; hope so.
    Do I get that the manufacture of electric cars obviates their usefulness; is that it? New Zealand has oodles of mountain generated hydroelectrics in the South Island, and whilst lots of things aren’t good down there these days, (including the power being so strong at a household outlet it is more than lethal) it does seem nice that there are now free charging stations all over the place.
    I guess I’ve still got Putin’s speech on the brain…flexibility…adaptability…Maybe Davos could move to Ayre’s Rock?

    • as long as alt-davos moves to the Top of ayers rock so the Maters f the Universe can look down on us serfs. yes, it did rain (and flood) in southeast australia recently. and yes, it depends where and how the electricity is generated. the plug-in station in mancos will feature coal-fired electricity, true in so many areas, otherwise oil, i’d reckon.

  4. i find this extremely offensive, wayne. i’ve told you many times that the geoengineering as intentionally to burn up a climate is rubbish, and here you are again. i’m of a mind to delete the whole mess, including the fact that there are zero paragraph breaks. and that it’s totally off-topic, as is yours that just got to my inbox re: the house of lords, which actually would have fit into the satire piece about the Monarchy and her family. or even an open menu, but just the pithy parts and a link, please.

  5. too bloody fun, via RT.com:

    who delivered the Novichok to poison sergei and his missing daughter? boris and natasha. of course…

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