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Today: Jun 14, 2024

Davos 2024: Climate finance snub?

2 mins read

TLDR:

Climate finance is not taking central stage at the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering in Davos, despite the risks posed by climate change and extreme weather events, according to Nina Seega, sustainable finance director at Cambridge University’s CISL. Misinformation and social polarisation are also risks highlighted by the WEF survey. With three billion people worldwide estimated to vote in 2024, political leaders will have to take notice of the electorate’s concerns, wrote Seega, adding that the hesitancy over investing in clean technologies and supporting the poorest in society may encourage more people to vote for far-right parties.

 

A “deteriorating global outlook” is how the World Economic Forum’s yearly global risks report, published ahead of this week’s Davos meeting, describes the world today. Davos is an annual meeting of business, academic and policy leaders in Switzerland, to tackle urgent global issues and shape industry agendas. The very first meeting took place in 1971, attracting 450 delegates – today there are roughly 2,500 in attendance. 

Two-thirds of respondents to the WEF’s aforementioned survey ranked extreme weather as the top risk most likely to present a material crisis on a global scale in 2024. Misinformation and social polarization were the other two risks highlighted by the report and are closely linked to how politicians and businesses will decide to respond to the climate and nature challenge.

Roughly three billion people around the world are expected to vote in 2024 with elections taking place in countries including the EU, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Pakistan and the US. Candidates such as former US President Donald Trump deny the existence of climate change, for example, while many politicians globally, are suggesting climate science is not absolute and that action to reduce emissions can be delayed until geo-politics are calmer, interest rates lower or some other variable changes.

Real change, such as that hinted at by the Davos meeting, whose theme this year is “rebuilding trust,” will need financing. Moving people and systems away from fossil fuels towards clean technologies and helping individuals and businesses adapt to the impacts of climate change will not come cheap. Yet, if the right financing is not put in place, emissions will not fall in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement (to keep a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels) and many will be left frustrated if they feel only the rich can afford to adopt new technologies. 

Those leaders that are voted in this year will also have to decide whether nature should get the attention it so desperately needs and that the world pledged to give it in the 2023 Global Biodiversity Framework. Action to slow down and eventually reverse the continuing destruction of flora and fauna worldwide can also help reduce emissions and better protect communities and farms from floods and storm surges but, again, radical change will cost money.

There was no shortage of potential ways to fund the ecological transition outlined in the Summit for a New Global Financial Pact, hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris last June, and at COP28 in Dubai in December. Political and business leaders now need, as 2024 begins, to turn theories into reality. Hard cash and innovative financing systems are what the world needs to better manage climate and environmental risks and to help fight polarisation and misinformation the world over. The global outlook in the short term may be deteriorating, but with focus, determination and properly financed solutions, in the medium to longer term, the forecast could look rather more rosy.