World Economic Forum: Davos between fear of recession and climate crisis

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The Ukraine war has dramatic consequences for the world economy – no wonder it is also the dominant topic at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Questions of global justice are also discussed.

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World Economic Forum started in Davos

The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) has started in Davos, Switzerland. 2,500 participants from politics, business and society want to discuss solutions to international problems. Traditionally, the meeting actually takes place in mid-January, but it was postponed due to the corona pandemic – now it is under the impression of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine and its worldwide consequences.

At the start of the meeting in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the President of the World Economic Forum, Børge Brende, called for a Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of Ukraine. The opening speech on Monday was held by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj, who was connected digitally for this purpose. Selenskyj called for “maximum effective sanctions” against Russia, such as an embargo for Russian energy sources.

< p>Leading leaders of politics and business come together in Davos, Switzerland – this time without snow and ice

Warning of global recession

In addition, the first day of the meeting, which ends next Thursday, dealt with issues relating to international energy supply, among other things. And a Davos long-running issue, the balance between economic profit and social justice, also played a role.

Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) sees four interconnected crises, as he said at his appearance in Davos – high inflation in many countries, an energy crisis, food shortages and the climate crisis. “We cannot solve the problems if we only focus on one of the problems,” warned Habeck. “But if none of the problems are solved, then I'm really worried that we're moving into a global recession.”

Such a recession would have serious consequences not only for climate protection but for global stability overall, Habeck continued. However, if every country only takes care of itself, that will exacerbate the crisis. “We have to keep the markets open,” said the Economics Minister.

Federal Minister of Economics Habeck in Davos

At the same time, however, the rules of the markets would have to change. It's not about de-globalization, but more cooperation and solidarity.

The Russian attack on Ukraine has also shaken global energy markets – at a time when they are already on the move due to the climate crisis. Saying goodbye to fossil fuels does not contradict the urgent need to take care of energy security, Habeck said in Davos. “We have to see that we can't solve one problem at the expense of another.” 

At the same time, Habeck called for more European unity in the discussion about an oil embargo against Russia. “We see the worst of Europe,” said Habeck. It should be noted that not every country is in the same situation. Nevertheless, he expects everyone, including Hungarians, to work on a solution.

Oxfam demands higher taxes for the rich

At the start of the WEF conference, the development organization Oxfam called for greater taxation of companies and very high levels of wealth in view of growing inequality.

“It is unacceptable that corporations and the billionaires behind them are making record profits while millions People have to skip meals, turn off the heating, are behind on their bills and are wondering what to do next to survive,” said Oxfam spokesman Manuel Schmitt.

Governments urgently need to take countermeasures and take corporations and the super-rich to task, it said. Wealth tax must be reintroduced in Germany. In addition, a one-off tax on very high assets and an excess profit tax for corporations are announced. According to Oxfam, the world's richest have gotten even richer since the start of the corona pandemic. The wealth of billionaires has grown by 42 percent. 

hb/iw (dpa)