Global elites slammed for ‘distasteful hypocrisy’ at Davos World Economic Forum

Global elites who travel to the Davos ski resort for the World Economic Forum have been blasted for their “distasteful hypocrisy”.

Greenpeace has slammed global elites travelling to Davos in “ultra-polluting, socially inequitable private jets”.

The lobby group slammed the “hypocrisy” of attendees of the World Economic Forum (WEF) who largely use private jets to travel to the event to talk about climate change in the Swiss Alps.

The NGO said it had commissioned research which showed that people who attended last year had made roughly 500 private flights in and out of airports near the exclusive ski resort.

Klaus Schwab, founder and chairman of the World Economic Forum. Picture: Salah Malkawi/ Getty Images

Organisers have again promised to make climate change one of the central themes of this year’s summit, while efforts have also been made to reduce the carbon footprint of the meeting and encourage VIP guests to take public transport.

“Given that 80 per cent of the world’s population has never even flown, but suffers from the consequences of climate-damaging aviation emissions, and that the WEF claims to be committed to the 1.5C Paris Climate Target, this annual private jet bonanza is a distasteful masterclass in hypocrisy,” Klara Maria Schenk, transport campaigner for Greenpeace, said in a statement.

Socialist Party activists take part in a protest against the World Economic Forum. Picture: AFP

The group said its research, carried out by Dutch environmental consultancy CE Delft, analysed flight records from airports near Davos during the week of the World Economic Forum last year and compared them to the weeks before and after.

“During the week of last year’s World Economic Forum 1040 private jet flights arrived and departed out of airports serving the Swiss luxury ski resort Davos, with about every second flight attributed to the meeting,” it said.

One flight was for only 21 kilometres while most originated from France, Germany and Italy.

The flights generated emissions equivalent to those of around 350,000 average cars in a week, Greenpeace said.

WEF organisers face annual criticism over the emissions caused by the event that sees policymakers, CEOs, academics and journalists along with an army of caterers and support staff head to the Alpine village.

Since 2017, the forum offsets its emissions each year, and has a sustainability policy that encourages the use of electric vehicles, seasonal produce for food, and recycling.

The use of private jets by corporate bosses has come under renewed scrutiny in recent years thanks to Twitter accounts that track the flights of planes known to be used by high-profile CEOs.

One of American billionaire Elon Musk’s first acts after taking over Twitter was to order the suspension of the @elonjet account following his own aircraft, on the grounds that it represented a security threat.

Executive Director of Oxfam International Gabriela Bucher. Oxfam says the number of billionaires should be reduced by half. Picture: AFP

The WEF responded and told Fox News the figure was likely an over-estimate, but admitted the more accurate number was closer to 500 private jets, a year-over-year decline that it argued showed participants were “taking the environmental impact of their travel more seriously.”

“We have been offering incentives to participants to use public transport for some years,” WEF said in a statement in January 2019. “We also ask that they share planes if they have to use them; something that has been gaining popularity in recent years.”

In the past, billionaires and world leaders like John Kerry, Bill Gates and George Soros have attended the Davos summit.

Billionaires targeted

Meanwhile, the number of billionaires should be reduced by half by 2030 through higher taxes and other policies to make the world more equal, Oxfam says.

In a report titled “Survival of the Richest”, Oxfam said billionaires had doubled their wealth over the last 10 years, with the wealthiest one per cent gaining 74 times more than the bottom 50 per cent.

The very wealthy have grown richer amid the cost-of-living crisis sparked by the Covid pandemic and soaring food and energy prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the report said.

The situation is extreme in India, where the top 1 per cent owned more than 40.5 per cent of the total wealth in 2021, according to Oxfam.

Adani Group chairman Gautam Adani is one of the richest people in the world. Picture: AFP

Since 2020, billionaire wealth has surged by $2.7 billion a day even as inflation outpaced the wages of at least 1.7 billion workers worldwide, Oxfam said.

Food and energy companies, it noted, had more than doubled their profits last year.

Oxfam called for taxes at rates that progressively redistribute wealth and reduce extreme inequality.

For starters, it said, “the world should aim to halve the wealth and number of billionaires between now and 2030, both by increasing taxes on the top one per cent and by adopting other billionaire-busting policies”.

Such steps would bring billionaire wealth and numbers back to levels last seen in 2012.

– AFP and Fox News


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