“I want you to feel panic: because our house is on fire. Greta Thunberg’s words have now entered history. He uttered them when he was sixteen, in 2019, before an audience of more intrigued than shocked economic and political leaders gathered in Davos for the World Economic Forum. Five years later, the world’s economic and financial elite seem to have appropriated the very young Swedish activist’s message, which at the time was considered provocative and subversive. Although conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East are high on the agenda at the 2025 edition of the WEF, which runs until Friday in the Swiss city, climate has actually established itself as a long-term issue, an “existential threat” to be exploited. the words of Andrea Illa, one of the Italian businessmen present in Davos.
The summit began with the presentation of the Global Risks Report 2024, in which the climate crisis plays a crucial role. “Environmental risks,” we read, “will make up half of the top 10 risks in the next 10 years, with extreme weather events, critical changes in Earth systems, biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse in the top three.” If we limit ourselves to the next two years, the risk of extreme weather events is second only to disinformation. Then came the report, again from the WEF, Quantifying the Impact of Climate Change on Human Health. According to estimates contained in the study, by 2050 climate change could cause 14.5 million deaths worldwide and more than $12 trillion in losses.
Climate change to cause 14.5 million deaths by 2050: Davos warning
by Fiammetto Cupellaro
“The WEF report shows that global warming is a big challenge. And not just today: it will be even bigger and more intense in the next ten years,” comments Luca Bergamaschi, co-founder of Ecco, an Italian climate think tank. “Even the world’s economic elite now understand that tomorrow’s security starts today and can’t be put off. This is an important message because real economy actors have a big influence on consumer choices and on politics. where financial flows go.” Maybe a late turning point. And whose effects will have to be tested. “We will have to see whether the economic world will be able to put the right climate policies into practice internally. But above all, whether it will be able to change the political approach to these issues, which seems seriously overdue. There were activists, civil society, now companies and finance that they recognized the seriousness of the problem. There is a lack of policy, where are the governments?”.
The year that begins with the Davos summit may actually mean a backsliding on climate policies in many areas of the world. There is concern about the return of Donald Trump to the White House: having previously pulled the United States out of the Paris Agreement and in the primary campaign that has just begun, he has already announced a kind of “revenge” for fossil fuels produced in the United States. We will be voting in India, the most populous democracy on the planet, whose economic growth is still heavily dependent on coal. And even the EU’s leadership in green regulation could be challenged by the outcome of the European Parliament vote in June.
“However, if what we see in Davos means that a large part of the elite, including the US elite, has decided to go in a certain direction, the possible defection of the US administration could be mitigated,” explains Bergamaschi. “And then there was Cop28, which remains a historic moment as a collective recognition of nations. Of course, at the level of individual countries, everything is at stake. The first test in Europe will take place on February 6. The Commission will present climate targets for 2040. Many environment ministers, including the Italian one, has already stood up. If you question these goals, instead of understanding how to achieve them, you are questioning the spirit of Dubai.” At the end of the year, there will also be Cop29, in Azerbaijan will focus mainly on climate finance. “On this occasion, too, the role of private investors key,” concludes Bergamaschi. “We know that public resources alone are not enough to solve the climate crisis, and governments in Baku might feel encouraged to invest if there was also a significant private contribution.”