Davos 2020: Arguments, Reports & Initiatives

    Stockholm (NordSIP) – Following the announcement of the Davos 2020 Manifesto on the Universal Purpose of a Company in the 4th Industrial Revolution, the global elite flocked to the Swiss sky resort to commiserate about the state of the world this week.

    The meeting did not produce any new or revolutionary announcements. The US President congratulated himself for the performance of the US economy. Most everyone else disagreed with him that we needn’t do anything about climate change, but no one took any decisive steps, despite a range of reports on being published on the issue on the margins of the events.

    Familiar Arguments

    The US President trumpeted the amazing growth of the US economy and asked his audience to ignore the climate change “prophets of doom”. Greta Thunberg once again pleaded with her audience to think about the plight of future generations and act now against climate change. “Our house is still on fire,” she said before adding that the inaction of the leaders gathered in the audience “is fueling the flames by the hour.” US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin joined the fray suggesting Thunberg would have a better understanding of the constraints global leaders acted within after taking an economics degree.

    Mark Carney, the BoE’s outgoing Governor and the initiator of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) sided with Thunberg noting that she has made “many positive contributions” and that hers was a “legitimate point”.  Still among central bankers, the newly appointed president of the ECB’s Governing Council, Christine Lagarde echoed these climate concerns while discussing plans to modernise the ECB. Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, was perhaps the most prominent voice to sound the alarm about climate change, warning about its dangers as well as about the threats to multilateralism and global geopolitical stability. “Multilateral institutions are indispensable if we want to live well in the world of tomorrow,” she said. “Commitment to multilateralism is essential and a precondition for shaping tomorrow,” Merkel mused, “Anything else will lead us into destruction.”

    Amitabh Behar, Oxfam India CEO and its representative at the WEF was not impressed with US President either. “It is embarrassing to see the President deliver a sales pitch for the American oil and gas industry rather than face up to challenges of the climate emergency. An economy that really works for women, men and the planet will not be built on tax giveaways for the richest and denials of the science,” she warned. Discussing the hurdles facing sustainable social policies, she added that “the gap between rich and poor can’t be resolved without deliberate inequality-busting policies, and too few governments are committed to these.”

    Reports – Risks and Warnings

    Speaking of Oxfam, we note the publication of their report Time to Care, which surveys inequality in the world. It notes that the wealth of the top 22 billionaires exceeds the wealth of all women in Africa. According to the organisation, “getting the richest 1% to pay just 0.5% extra tax on their wealth over the next 10 years would equal the investment needed to create 117 million jobs in sectors such as elderly and childcare, education and health.”

    The WEF also published its annual risk report. For the first time, environmental issues are the most likely sources of risk for 2020, according to the 800 members it surveyed.


    On Tuesday, the Church of England’s three National Investing Bodies (NIBS) representing over £12 billion in assets under management, joined the United Nations-convened Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance. The Alliance counts Alecta, Allianz, AMF, Aviva, Axa, CalPERS, Folksam, Nordea Life and Pension, PensionDanmark, and Storebrand among its members.

    In 2020 the Alliance will focus on three core areas: advancing its measurement and public reporting; engaging with portfolio companies on a net-zero target; and engaging policymakers towards policies supportive of net-zero economy ambitions. The first step of the year’s strategy was taken on the day of the announcement when the Alliance engaged over 50 C-suite representatives of portfolio companies in a closed-door session at the WEF in Davos.


    Image by Nici Keil from Pixabay

    Filipe Albuquerque
    Filipe Albuquerque
    Filipe is an economist with 8 years of experience in macroeconomic and financial analysis for the Economist Intelligence Unit, the UN World Institute for Development Economic Research, the Stockholm School of Economics and the School of Oriental and African Studies. Filipe holds a MSc in European Political Economy from the LSE and a MSc in Economics from the University of London, where he currently is a PhD candidate.

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