As journalists and political and economic elites converge on Davos for the 2023 WEF summit which begins today, protesters are also arriving from around the globe to advocate protecting the climate by taxing the wealthy.
Dozens of protesters arrived by train raising placards and chanted slogans at the ski resort, where hundreds of global elites are meeting to promote "cooperation in a fragmented world” and address the most pressing issues facing the world.
With the attendees reaching Davos by private jet, creating CO2 emissions four times greater than an average week and doubling the average weekly air traffic, many of the protesters are slamming them over their handling of climate issues.
Of the 1,040 flights intended for the summit, 53% travelled less than 750 km, when travel by train or car could have been an adequate replacement. Another 38% flew shorter distances under 500 km, with the quickest flight a measly 21 km.
Said flight went from Friedrichshafen (D) to Altenrhein SG — a stone's throw across Lake Constance. The drive would have taken only an hour by car.
"It’s important to be here to show what are the problems of the World Economic Forum,” said protester Claudio Bernhard.
"The rich and powerful are swarming to Davos to discuss climate and inequality behind closed doors using the most unequal and polluting form of transport: private jets," added Klara Maria Schenk, transport campaigner for Greenpeace's European mobility campaign.
On the use of private jets, the WEF wants to reduce CO2 emissions by offering discounts of 50% for the participation fee to those who travel by train. Despite no action yet taken, France spearheaded several EU countries to push for an EU-wide regulation of private jet emissions last year.
"Private jets must be consigned to history to have a green, just and safe future for all," said Schenk. "So-called world leaders must lead by example and ban private jets and useless short-haul flights."
"Given that 80% of the world's population has never even flown but suffers from the consequences of climate-damaging aviation emissions and that the WEF claims to be committed to the 1.5C Paris climate target, this annual private jet bonanza is a distasteful masterclass in hypocrisy."
According to a WEF survey of global risk specialists, the issue that will dominate policy and discourse over the next decade is the supposed failure to tackle climate change and environmental degradation.
But a separate bleak report warned of "polycrises" that pose a "severe global risk," such as climate change, natural resource shortages, and the cost of living. It highlighted a growing divergence between what is "scientifically necessary to achieve net zero [carbon emissions] and what is politically feasible."
"Governments will continue to face a dangerous balancing act between protecting a broad swathe of their citizens from an elongated cost-of-living crisis without embedding inflation," reads a WEF statement.
The international entity justified surveillance technology for patrolling individual carbon emissions last fall. Through an initiative referred to as “My Carbon”, climate concerned individuals are able to monitor their own carbon footprint through a “personal allowance program” — an idea that continues to gain support.
Additionally, over 200 millionaires from 13 countries will release a strongly-worded letter later this week to call on Davos attendees to get serious about tackling extreme wealth and embrace significant tax increases on the wealthy.
They added that current-day challenges, including 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 such problems."
On Sunday, a group of environmentalists gathered at the Davos' BlackRock offices, demanding the global investment giant cancel the debt of less fortunate countries so they can better tackle climate change.