Climate Weekly: The Davos paradox

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Heavy snow made some delegates late to the 2018 World Economic Forum in Davos (Pic: World Economic Forum/Pierre Abensur)


The annual World Economic Forum in Davos creaks with irony: where the rich talk earnestly about solving inequality and big emitters promise to solve climate change – you know, at a “realistic” pace.

Witness chief executives nodding along to Narendra Modi’s spiel about the evils of consumerism and joys of yoga. Or the signpost pointing to “a day in the life of a refugee” one way and “private car pick-up” the other.

Emmanuel Macron commented on another paradox at the ski resort: “With this snow, it could be hard to believe in global warming.” Adding, in a jab at Donald Trump: “Fortunately, we did not invite anybody sceptical this year.”

Rhetoric and reality: we put the leaders’ climate soundbites in context.

There was radical talk from some unlikely sources. “We have to change capitalism” to solve climate change, said lentil-muncher Philipp Hildebrand, vice-chair of world’s largest asset manager Blackrock. Indian tycoon Anand Mahindra committed to cut carbon across his businesses in line with the Paris Agreement – and called on other companies to do the same.

And one of the usual suspects, UN sustainable energy chief Rachel Kyte, warned Trump’s decision to impose an import tariff on solar panels would disrupt the low carbon shift.

If you think this means Trump will be treated as a pariah when he speaks this afternoon, think again. Karl Mathiesen argues he is right at home among the billionaires of Davos, 15 of whom joined him for dinner on Thursday and gushed about his corporate tax cuts.

Climate conversations

The climate solution no-one in Davos will be talking about – Ian Lefond and Timmons Roberts, Brown University

In the woods

Far from the ritz and glitz, two of our correspondents reported on threatened forests.

In the second of two dispatches from Estonia, Arthur Neslen talked to followers of pagan traditions who want to see loggers desecrating sacred sites stripped of their “sustainable timber” certificates.

Fabiano Maisonnave reported on an illegal logger in Mato Grosso, Brazil, revealing how repeat offenders evade penalties.

Cough up

In a somewhat passive aggressive press release, UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa thanked the 31 countries that paid their contributions to her core budget on time.

That means 166 are late. Trump has been upfront about refusing to fund the UN climate process. What is Macron’s excuse?

Wrong direction

Transport drove Germany’s emissions up in 2016 for a second year in a row, official figures show. No wonder Angela Merkel gave the climate only a passing mention in her Davos speech.

Protest crackdown

In a law that has been little remarked-upon outside Poland, parliament agreed to ban spontaneous demonstrations at the next round of climate talks in Katowice.

It also empowers the authorities to gather personal data about participants and use it without their consent, Chloe Farand reported for DeSmog UK.

Hoda Baraka of activist network said the clampdown “will not stop a resilient and innovative climate movement”.

Read more on: Climate politics