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Forum delegates ready to put climate change under the microscope

Climate change is one of the main items on the agenda of this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos.

In the WEF’s Global Risks Report 2022, “failure of climate action” is the number one long-term threat to the world and the risk with potentially the most severe impacts over the next decade.

Since the United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP26, in Glasgow, Scotland, in November, senior government officials and industry experts have warned that no nation is moving fast enough on the green transition.

More recently, the conflict in Ukraine has seen several countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, expand domestic fossil fuel exploration in pursuit of energy security.

The UK is expected to approve several new oil and gas projects in the North Sea, and it is also exploring the possibility of lifting a ban on hydraulic fracturing, or hydraulic fracturing, and opening a new coal mine.

Against this backdrop, Nicholas Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, said Davos offered an opportunity to re-assert the case for renewables.

“The logical conclusion that should be drawn from the current crisis of fossil fuel supply volatility and insecurity is that countries should move more quickly towards greater energy efficiency and cleaner alternatives, particularly renewable energies. renewables,” Stern said. “Leaders should not be misled by false claims that the current situation signals that we need more fossil fuels.”

He said participants in Davos can ensure that international public funding is increased and partner with the private sector to achieve the necessary increase and reduction in investment costs for renewable energy.

“Political and business leaders present in Davos should recognize that it is dangerous not to accelerate action on climate change. It is vital to implement strong policies and increase investment, especially from the private sector “Stern said.

Ajay Gambhir, senior fellow at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College London, said Davos leaders can “make a bold statement that this is the most important time we have been faced with to maximize energy efficiency and get out of fossil fuels”. fuels”.

While the conflict in Ukraine has highlighted Europe’s dependence on Russian oil and gas, it also offers “a tremendous opportunity to shift away from these fossil fuels more quickly,” Gambhir said.

There are fears that some leaders are already turning their backs on pledges made at COP26, where British delegates urged other nations to scale back new fossil fuel projects.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has since softened his rhetoric, declaring in the recent energy strategy that “net zero is a smooth transition, not an immediate execution, for oil and gas”, and announcing that the UK would intensify exploration in the North Sea. .

Asher Minns, Executive Director of the Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia, said: “In recent UK energy policy announcements, I feel Ukraine is seen as a reason to step away from the promises and momentum of the Glasgow summit.

“Climate and sustainability are at the heart of what the World Economic Forum should think about and discuss. … (Ukraine) further demonstrates – not that further evidence is needed – the political and economic need for an energy cleanliness and a reduction in energy demand, which is essential for the climate and for sustainability.”

Hu Angang, director of the Center for China Study, a think tank linked to Tsinghua University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said China will play a key role in “spurring the green renewable energy revolution”. .

“China not only takes the lead in combating climate change, but actively participates in and leads global climate governance,” Hu said.

“Even with the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, China is still on track to meet its own targets in the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) to combat climate change, and is actively fulfilling its commitments to the international community. with more innovative efforts to lead the fourth industrial revolution.”