Hope for climate in Davos’ World Economic Forum

world economic forumLast week in Davos, Switzerland, took place the annual World Economic Forum. As the financial crisis of 2008 is drawing to an end, climate change is emerging as a key crisis that has to be addressed as soon as possible. To Reuters :

” Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, summed it up for any Davos doubters: “Unless we take action on climate change, future generations will be roasted, toasted, fried and grilled.”

Now this is some serious talk and I am puzzled that this didn’t end up making headlines on both climate specialized blogs or general news.

Not that climate change is a threat we should overlook – it is THE ultimate threat of  the Human race – but until now, people gathering at the World Economic Forum and such events weren’t that impressed by global warming.

The New York Times published an interesting article on that very matter a few days prior to this year’s WEF. Here is a short extract of the introduction :

WHETHER in Davos or almost anywhere else that leaders are discussing the world’s problems, they are missing by far the biggest issue: the rapidly deteriorating global environment and its ability to support civilization.

The situation is pretty much an endgame. Unless pressing issues of the biology of the planet and of climate change generated by greenhouse gas emissions are addressed with immediacy and at appropriate scale, the matters that occupy Davos discussions will be seen in retrospect as largely irrelevant.

I couldn’t agree more.

But despite a quite new importance of climate change, there is still a disconnect between what politicians do and what needs to be done. This is even more puzzling when one knows that greening the economy would address both the climate crisis and the economy crisis ( as well as the energy one, cf. my posts on the triple crisis )

But could 2013 be the year where climate change is finally, at long last, tackled ? CNN believes so :

When the World Economic Forum recently asked 1,000 leaders from industry, government, academia, and civil society to rank risks over the coming decade for the Global Risks 2013 report, climate change was in the top three. And in his second inaugural address, President Obama identified climate change as a major priority for his Administration.

For good reason: last year was the hottest year on record for the continental United States, and records for extreme weather events were broken around the world. We are seeing more droughts, wildfires, and rising seas. The current U.S. drought will wipe out approximately 1% of the U.S. GDP and is on course to be the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history.

Damage from Hurricane Sandy will cost another 0.5% of GDP. And a recent study found that the cost of climate change is about $1.2 trillion per year globally, or 1.6% of global GDP.

These are great news : if climate change becomes as important as other traditional topics such as the economy, we might see soon some serious action to combat global warming.

We shall see tomorrow how our elected representatives and political leaders could really curb our emissions. So for this and for much more, stay tuned !

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