Business as Usual

DAVOS symbolises the ritualistic yearly meet of the world’s super rich. It is the club of billionaires and their ideological followers. As per Oxfam’s report entitled “Survival of the Richest”, since 2020 billionaire wealth has grown by a staggering $2.7 billion per day while inflation outpaced the wages of nearly 1.7 billion people across the world. This abnormal rise in accumulation continued despite the Pandemic and amid soaring prices of essential commodities in recent months following the war in Ukraine as America in league with its NATO partners has organised a grand alliance against Russia, destabilising global market to the disadvantage of the poor everywhere while allowing the US military-industrial complex to reap huge bonanza after the Second World War. Oxfam’s report may create a flutter at the moment at DAVOS but finally it will be business as usual. With the cost of living of wage-earners throughout the world mounting in leaps and bounds the much publicised pledge of steering the planet earth towards a 1.5 degree Celsius pathway hangs in the balance. Then the recent agreement at the UN Biodiversity Conference (CBDCOP15) in Montreal to conserve 30 percent of all earth and sea sounds bold but fragile in the face of a rising biodiversity crisis.

This year climate was high on the agenda of the World Economic Forum (WEF). And UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres delivered his gloomy message on the second day of the elite gathering as he would see ’the world is in a sorry state because of myriad interlinked challenges including climate change and Russia-Ukraine war’ that are “piling up like cars in a chain reaction crash”. The meeting kicked off with protests from climate activists accusing big oil firms of hijacking the climate debate. In their parlance it was actually World Economic Failure–WEF. Major energy firms including BP, Chevron and Saudi Aramco were among the 1500 business leaders who faced protest at Davos. The global super rich are mainly responsible for the climatic disasters people are experiencing in every corner of the world. Climate campaigner Greta Thunberg slammed corporate bigwigs meeting in Davos for ‘fuelling the destruction of the planet by investing in fossil fuels and priorirising short term profits over people affected by the climate crisis’. Another young climate crusader Vanessa Nakate said “leaders are playing games with people’s future”. The activists sponsored a “cease and desist” letter calling on the chiefs of oil companies to stop all new oil and gas projects, signed by nearly 900,000 people. Mr Guterres was candid enough to endorse the allegation that ‘fossil fuel producers were fully aware in the 1970s that their core product was baking the planet’. He added further that “Some in Big Oil peddled the Big Lie”.

Scientists say it will be next to impossible to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) in line with climate goals set in Paris in 2015. Current levels of warming which have already reached up to 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 degrees F), means it is “already a living hell for many communities across the African continent, across the global South” who are living with extreme drought, heat and flooding. Unprecedented flooding of Pakistan is a very recent phenomenon. And Thunberg was right in assessing the hard reality: “Without massive pressure from the outside, these people [Davos elites] are going to go as far as they possibly can. As long as they can get away with it, they will continue to invest in fossil fuels; they will continue to throw people under bus for their own gains.” Gualinga, an Ecuadorian indigenous campaigner, said the world is ‘taking a really dangerous path”. But who is listening? Nobody. And political parties, left and right alike, nearer home and abroad, are too naïve to mobilise masses against the real enemy of the people.

The WEF survey states that current-day challenges, particularly the rising cost of living, persistent energy and food supply crunches and heavy national debts threaten to thwart the collective will and cooperation needed to address the climate crisis. In truth successive climate summits despite pious wishes found more non-cooperation than cooperation.

The annual event of the rich in Davos was once regarded as a cheerleader for globalisation. Now a reverse swing is very much in the air as the global elite met against the backdrop of protectionism. The euphoria over globalisation or what may be called ‘Davos Spirit’ is vanishing very fast. The head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said in a speech at Davos that the European Union will prepare a law to make life easier for its green industry and back it with state aid and a European Sovereignty Fund to keep firms from moving to the United States.


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Vol 55, No. 32, Feb 5 - 11, 2023