Photo//World Economic Forum

From Jan. 21 through Jan. 24, the World Economic Forum met in Davos, Switzerland to negotiate plans related to business and industry standards for 2020. This year, climate change was at the forefront of the discussion as environmental circumstances are posing threats to business, political, and industrial interests in a variety of sectors across the globe. 

According to Time magazine, “in the last five years, the cost of climate-related disasters in the U.S. topped $525 billion, close to a third of the cost of natural disasters since 1980. Meanwhile, climate activists have forced corporate leaders to at least say they’re listening.”

Several bankers in attendance debated the role of national governments in curbing the effects of climate change touching on carbon tax and banks’ refusal to lend to fossil fuel companies, the Wall Street Journal reported. The discussion regarding the role of leading global governments versus economic networks such as banks in addressing climate change is very relevant. Demands from Australians encouraging their prime minister to actively address the climate-related causes of the bush fires at the end of 2019 are a recent example of the dispute. 

Talk about imposing a carbon tax on fossil fuel companies and other businesses that contribute to carbon emissions became a central focus of the meeting, considering that the European Union and other European non-members of the EU recently committed to reducing their carbon emissions. 

Last month, the European Union—with the exception of coal-reliant Poland– committed itself to zero net carbon emissions by 2050,” the Wall Street Journal said. “The U.K., which is leaving the bloc at the end of the month, has pledged a similar target. Ms. Marin’s center-left government in Finland, a country of just 5.5 million people, has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2035.” 

Climate activist Greta Thunberg stressed that the global community has eight years to react to climate change to save the natural environment, among other statements, according to the World Economic Forum’s website. She encouraged disinvestment in companies with large carbon emissions and called on the First World nations to react more quickly to climate change. 

Her statements were met with some frustration by leaders in the economic world, who asserted that her inexperience with the world of economics inhibits her from providing reasonable suggestions to the corporate and political spheres. 

Steven Mnuchin, the United States Secretary of the Treasury, was quoted in his disapproval of Thunberg’s statements. 

“Mr. Mnuchin described Ms. Thunberg’s call for disinvestment from fossil-fuel companies as “a joke”,” the Wall Street Journal said. 

The World Economic Forum released its 2020 Global Risks Report prior to convening in Davos, which outlined environment and climate-related risks to the global economy. On its website, the World Economic Forum explained the major claims of the report. 

The global economy is facing an increased risk of stagnation, climate change is striking harder and more rapidly than expected, and fragmented cyberspace threatens the full potential of next-generation technologies — all while citizens worldwide protest political and economic conditions and voice concerns about systems that exacerbate inequality,” the World Economic Forum said. 

Although the climate issue is still divisive, Forbes highlighted the major result of the Davos 2020 forum, which involves planting and protecting one trillion trees worldwide within the next decade.