Davos: fuss over Greta and the question of impact

In a speech at this year's World Economic Forum in Davos, Donald Trump only mentioned climate protection in passing despite the fact that it was supposed to be the main topic of the event. Later on, Greta Thunberg accused top managers of failing to take action to stop climate change. Commentators are annoyed by the fixation on these two prominent opponents and ask how relevant the forum is today.

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L'Opinion (FR) /

Black and white discourse lacks common sense

The Earth deserves a more nuanced approach to the problems at hand, L'Opinion believes:

“Designating one and only one enemy amounts to truncating reality, fuelling demagogy and preventing any concrete solutions. … When it comes to CO2 emissions one can criticise the limits of the market without rehabilitating the planned economy. One can discuss capitalism without relieving consumers of their responsibility. One can urge companies to react and at the same time point to the inaction of states, which are often unable to enforce the 'polluter pays' principle. One can stigmatise the blindness of CO2 sinners without condoning the false utopia of a happy transition, which in reality means the end of purchasing power and individual freedoms. The fate of the planet deserves better than such a primitive duel, namely a little common sense.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Capitalism also offers chance of rescuing climate

Donald Trump and Greta Thunberg are two sides of the same coin, Lidové noviny writes:

“Greta obviously embodies the realm of good, Trump the realm of evil and ruthlessness towards the planet. However, the truth is not so clearly black and white. ... Capitalism doesn't only cause climate problems, it also offers hope in the fight against climate change. The moral and political problem of saving the Earth is turning into an economic problem, one of investment. Subject to political and social pressure, capitalism and its banks are being forced to finance a new green world. And that is the core of what is essentially the conflict-free agenda in Davos, not the war of words between Greta and Trump.”

Kristeligt Dagblad (DK) /

Davos's days should come to an end

Kristeligt Dagblad has little patience for this annual gathering of the rich and powerful - with a few Youtubers and young people thrown in for decorative purposes - in Davos :

“The real problem with Davos is that it would be difficult for most people to explain just what concrete results this annual event actually achieves - regardless of the extensive media coverage. ... This hyper-exclusive meeting of the richest people in the world - with NGOs and a few young people as an alibi - not only no longer corresponds to the spirit of the times. Perhaps it's time for the major challenges facing the world to be taken seriously enough to be discussed in forums where the celebrity and private-jet factor weighs less than the obligations facing international society.”

Delfi (LT) /

Economic elite can no longer ignore unrest

Linas Kojala, head of the Eastern Europe Studies centre in Vilnius, detects in Delfi a certain willingness to introduce reforms in Davos:

“Alarmed by the proposals of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who want to become US president, and with the memory of Jeremy Corbyn's aspirations to become British prime minister fresh in their minds, business leaders are talking about the need to reform capitalism. ... For example ['Davos founder' Klaus] Schwab proposes ensuring that the valuation of companies takes account not only of profits, but also of how much money is spent on salaries, taxes and the fight against social problems such as climate change. ... People at Davos are beginning to ask questions that reflect the concerns of millions of people in different parts of the Western world.”

Journal 21 (CH) /

Greta, solid as a rock

For Journal 21 the spectacle surrounding Greta Thunberg's visit to Davos is a sign that solutions to the climate crisis are lacking:

“The hope is that somehow something will be invented before it's too late, and that, for example, those who oppose wind power will one day rejoice over the wind farms and power lines they now so bitterly reject. The politicians are de facto at a loss and trying to cover up their cluelessness with big announcements. Convincing and inspiring technical concepts are lacking. All that remains is the uneasy feeling that we're on a slippery slope and that fundamental changes are urgently needed, but nobody knows how to bring them about. In hopeless situations one tends to favour pseudo-solutions. Venerating Greta Thunberg is one of them. It offers a foothold on unstable ground.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Industry must be forced to make right choices

Successfully fighting the climate crisis means that politicians must be uncompromising with business, climate researcher Anthony Patt writes in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung:

“Firstly, a healthy industry will be of little use to Europe if our cities are below sea level and flooded by climate refugees who expect to be fed by an agricultural sector that has no access to fresh water. ... Secondly, there are no longer any economic reasons to rely on nuclear power since the costs for renewables and energy storage have dropped so considerably. It's simply less expensive and easier on resources to generate energy reliably with a combination of sun and wind, supplemented by battery, water and hydrogen storage.”

Naftemporiki (GR) /

Economic heavyweights are hard to impress

One prominent activist on her own can't achieve all that much, Naftemporiki points out:

“Davos also often serves as a 'washing machine' for restless celebrities like the rock star Bono. Either way, one Thunberg is not enough to turn things around at the forum. Because this is where the high and mighty of the planet forge their plans for tomorrow without any particular sensitivity - whether the issue at hand is the rights of the poor and neglected or the climate change that is threatening the planet with additional ecological, economic and social disasters.”

Corriere del Ticino (CH) /

Real green economy needs paradigm shift

Environmental protection and economic activity should no longer be considered incompatible, Corriere del Ticino puts in:

“A polarisation between the anti-environmentalist Donald Trump and the green Greta Thunberg is to be expected. Nevertheless, even in Davos it would be better to try to find a more pragmatic way forward which shows what can really be done now and in the future. A green economy or a green new deal can only be effective if they are firmly rooted in reality. Environmental protection is right, but at the same time it is right to develop companies and the market economy (and hence growth, income and employment). The real challenge is to synthesise the economy and the environment, and not to pitch the two concepts against each other.”

L'Echo (BE) /

Environmental protection still just cosmetic

Before the start of the World Economic Forum companies like Nestlé, Microsoft and Blackrock have announced more radical environmental protection measures. L'Echo explains why such initiatives are not enough:

“Firstly because most of them cannot escape the continuous growth of global economic activities. Like the cars which have become less polluting on an individual level in recent years, but collectively put out higher amounts of CO2. Secondly, because to channel this growth we need a supranational leader capable of integrating the environmental aspect into commercial arbitration proceedings. The latest agreement signed this week between the United States and China does just the opposite. ... It is forcing the exchange of goods across the planet, with the heavy environmental footprint that implies.”