An eye on Davos

World Economic Forum 2020
Published by Charlie on 2020-01-22 in Eco
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Hey guys! On Wednesday I had a call with Isabelle, an activist from FFF Stockholm who is at the World Economic Forum Right now. She told me a bit about what the general atmosphere there is like and what is being done about climate change.

Hi! How are you?
Isabelle: I'm good! How are you?

Fine! So, how many of you are there right now?
I: Like, how many youth or how many activists?

I: So, we are part of a youth cohort that was invited, so we're 12 teenage so called "change makers" and activists. Four of us are from the climate strike.

And in general how many teenagers are there?
I: It's just the 12!
So you're like the younger ones, and you had to be invited to be there?
I: Exactly.

So if I wanted to come I couldn't just, you know, take a train and come there.
I: So the World Economic Forum is split into two parts. There's the open Forum where anyone can hop on a train and come and join. And then there's the actual World Economic Forum annual meeting in the congress hall, and you'd need a badge and you'd need to be invited.

And what have been the most interesting panels you've attended to?
I: Ugh, I don't know, I can't say! We went to one that was really interesting yesterday, and it was about averting the climate apocalypse where Greta had her speech and afterwards there was an indigenous woman from Chad. She was really good at talking and really explained how the climate crisis is already killing people, so that was super interesting and I learned so much from that panel.
So, we spoke during COP25 with another activist that was in Madrid striking and he told us that the feeling there wasn't really good. From what we gathered COP25 was a bit of a failure. Do you have the feeling that at the World Economic Forum right now it's a little bit better? What kind of feeling do you get about the climate crisis?

I: Well, I guess it depends. I mean, the WEF is a completely different type of meeting than the COP meetings. It's more of a meeting where people can meet and discuss not something where they have to work to achieve means to an end together in the same way. But being here, everyone is extremely optimistic about the future and it feels like they're missing out on some parts. Everyone is really talking about sustainability and the future but not about concrete actions, it's still all about 2050 and clean coal and it's quite depressing actually.

So you don't feel the sense of urgency?
I: Some people have the sense of urgency, like most of the activists that are coming and people that are working with sustainability and are talking on panels. But I think a lot of the business leaders and government leaders aren't feeling the urgency at all.
And what kind of demands do you have?
I: So, because [FFF] is a grassroots movement we don't have like one side of super concrete demands, because it's so big. But what we do have is that together we are all asking for climate justice, we're asking for the government leaders and people to listen to the current best available science and to act upon that. And of course we want them to listen to the Paris Agreement. Then of course some countries have more specific demands where they talk more. Before the WEF me and 20 other climate strikers from all over the world we wrote a letter asking governments and institutions to divest from fossil fuels and towards substitutes of fossil fuels. But that's not representative of the entire FFF.

And from what you could see at the conferences and panels do you see that happening?
I: Ahh, I really don't think so. I think there are many people that are saying that they want to act for the climate but none of them actually are willing to take the step to divest from fossil fuels. None of them are willing to take the step to actually act and decrease or stop the carbon emissions. So it's quite sad to see but at the same time it's a little bit of progress, compared to what it was before. But, I mean, it's nothing to be super happy about.
And do you feel like you're closer to the place where you can make a difference?
I: I think it's a start. I think it is really difficult for us to say that we're personally making a difference. But I think the presence of 12 youths for the first time at the World Economic Forum, and it's the 50th year, is really making an impact. Adults are realising that youths are aware of what's going on, that youths care about what's going on. And we do want to be a part of decision making, we do want to be a part of shaping our own future. And hopefully that will make enough of an impact on them to actually look at what we are saying and look at what we are demanding. And listen to the science, and actually change. Because only demonstrating from the outside won't always bring the tension we need. Sometimes it needs to be both big demonstrations from outside and trying to discuss from the inside even if it's tedious.

When you protest and strike, when you go out in the streets and ask for things, most of people just get upset that things don't get done . Do you get a hold of the decision making process behind the government decisions, being there at the WEF? Do you get an insight of how people decide to do things and why they do that?

I: The part of the World Economic Forum that we have had available to us isn't the decision making part. It's the panels, the speeches, it's seeing people in corridors. So generally I don't know how they make the decisions. But the feeling from being here and seeing what they do is that they're not actually making lots of decisions here, they're discussing things and creating contacts rather than making big decisions and contracts and trades.
But maybe that's just what it looks like for where we are. I mean, probably there are lots and lots of private meetings where they do make decisions but we aren't allowed into those of course.
Do you feel like that's a grey area for you? Like maybe they're listening to us, maybe they are not, maybe they are doing the things we ask about the climate maybe they are not...
I: Yeah, we have no idea really. But we really really hope they are listening to the science and actually considering the climate crisis as a crisis, as it is. But from how slow the action is it doesn't seem like it.

Would you say the Forum is the most important place to be right now for the climate fight?
I: I don't know, I think there are lots and lots of important places to be for the climate fight. This is one of them. And I think if we can have people all over the world in so many different places making an impact at the same time, that's the most important thing. Even if thousands and thousands of climate activists came here, I don't think it would be the most important place to be. Not one single place is where the future of the climate activism or the climate crisis is decided, I think it's holistic. It's all over the place, it's all connected and this is just one of the places where impact can be made.

What's the panel you are most looking forward to?
I: Today I am going to be on a panel with one of Sweden's most renowned climate scientists and I'm very looking forward to meet him and talk to him about science.
Now we need to start moving towards our next panel, it was nice talking to you!

Thank you so much and good luck with the panel! Have a nice day!
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Hey guys! As we informed you last week, today is the first day of World Economic Forum 2020 in Davos, Switzerland.
This is massively important right now and I'm about to explain to you why.

So the WEF is an annual meeting between politicians and economic world leaders to discuss about investments and all of that money stuff that is actually really important for the continuation of our life but I don't know how to address properly.

Long story short, WEF is all about where's worth to invest your money in, as a politician, as a banker, or just as a rich person in general.
Of course, this year's main topic is climate. Because now more than ever governments and industries are encouraged to invest their money in renewable energy and sustainable solutions.
And most importantly, many young climate activists between 14 and 19 years old (Greta included) will have a place in all of this.

In the website of the Forum you can find a list of all of them and the panels they will speak to. I think that this is a huge step forward, because we finally have an official space in which to be heard and listened by people who can make a difference.

Because what we have to realise is that what we demand in climate strikes, the decisions we pressure the governments to take, it's all about money. In the end it's always about what is more convenient to spend money on.
Think about plastic: it's still the n.1 choice in every bar and restaurant and the reason is that it's cheap and easy to dispose.

So, to have many teens who are fighting for different aspects of the climate issue to speak in front of an audience that contributes to guide the decision making regarding money stuff, well that's pretty big.
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Also, you can watch all the sessions of the Forum on their website, so here's the schedule for every day until Friday! As you can see there are a lot of panels with the specific topic "How to save the planet".
Here you can find the main points that are going to be tackled regarding the climate crisis.

Everybody knows what the problem is, it's all about applying the solutions. Apart from the more "obvious ones" (like switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy) what impressed me the most was this singular point. You know how people tend to assimilate the sustainable conversion of the economy to a huge expense for governments? It's actually not like that, because even though fossil fuels could have an immediate profit, it's going to be a problem in the long term.

So see you tomorrow with more updates!
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