by Seth Gellman
The annual meeting between business and political meetings leaders occurred in Davos, Switzerland, from January 21-24. Delegates from 117 countries and 121 nationalities attended the World Economic Forum. There were 17 banking and investment companies sending teams of five to the prestigious forum. Attendees included the likes of Donald Trump, climate activist Greta Thunberg, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
Climate change proved to be a divisive issue among many of the world’s elites. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin clashed with European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde.
Mnuchin said that there was no way to accurately predict the future impact of Climate Change. Lagarde disagreed, saying that it was crucial to assess the potential risk Climate Change poses to the market, and then deciding on how to combat it. This wasn’t the only clash over Climate Change. Teen activist and TIME’s 2019 Person of the year Greta Thunberg accused attendees of talking about combating Climate Change and not doing anything about it. Trump called climate activists “prophets of doom.” Trump also said that Thunberg should focus on other countries besides the United States. World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab wrote a letter asking companies at the forum to commit to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Another topic discussed at the World Economic Forum was the increasing power of women. One speech came from the youngest government leader in the world, 34 year old Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin. Marin detailed the gender stereotypes rampant in society and said that gender stereotypes need to be addressed by men and women, not just women. Marin believes that it’s important for everyone to get involved and not just stand by while others fight for gender equality. German Chancellor Angela Merkel pleaded for people to talk to each other, or they would likely get caught in their digital bubble with those who share their beliefs, which may lead to close-mindedness.
The World Economic Forum placed heavy focus on Climate Change and its impact on financial markets in the future. Thunberg challenged the global elite to make environmentally friendly changes. Trump and Mnuchin fought back and claimed that predicting the impact Climate Change will have is illogical as it is simply impossible to accurately predict what would happen. It will be interesting to see how leaders act to enact more environmentally friendly policies or enact policies that are less environmentally friendly and the impacts that they will have on the business market.