A sustainable future in Davos?

How the World Economic Forum failed the climate movement...again.

Wendy Gao, Editorial Board

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Amidst the tumult of the Senate impeachment trials occurring on the Hill in real-time, President Donald Trump is far from Washington, D.C. as 50 Senators preside as jurors to decide the fate of his presidency. While all American eyes are on the Senate floor, environmentalists and climate activists have their eyes on the World Economic Forum in Davos, Sweden, where President Trump joins other world leaders and the most influential business people on the planet to talk money.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash.

The World Economic Forum organizes itself around a theme each year, and the selected topic for this year is “Stakeholders for a cohesive and sustainable world.” The sixth word, sustainable, has brought youth advocate Greta Thunberg back to Davos a year after her emblematic “house on fire” speech.

For a conference dedicated to maximizing economic agendas and advancing industrial interests, the thought of a sustainable future is almost paradoxical, as the reaping of profits relies on the exploitation of resources and destruction of natural lands. The world’s largest fossil fuel companies like Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Exxon Mobil, and Chevron are not coincidentally among the richest.

Why then would the World Economic Forum supposedly hold sustainability and a shared future at the heart of their convening? Thunberg blames them for their empty words and promises in place solely to appease the movement and give the impression that world leaders are taking action to mitigate the climate crisis.

Conciliation is not a new phenomenon in the climate movement. In fact, the movement expects nothing less. Environmental panelists speaking at the forum commented that they would be shocked if government officials began to act on the climate crisis.

Even so, Thunberg and comrade youth climate activists did not journey to Davos for no reason. Despite expecting inaction, their presence at the World Economic Forum was a statement and warning for not only world leaders but corporations as well.

“This is just the very beginning,” Thunberg said at the forum. The movement will not stop, and governments opting for inaction will soon be overridden by the unignorable calls for change. In light of the upcoming 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the world is gearing up for the most momentous mobilization for the climate in human history – proof that the movement will not wait for the attendees in Davos.