In Davos, a bleak picture of the state of the planet – Science et Avenir

No snow, but plenty of rumbling thunderstorms: The Davos Forum, which ended on Thursday, multiplied the warnings of the accumulation of crises currently shaking the planet.

Weapons for Ukraine

The guest of honor (on video) of Monday’s opening day, the Ukrainian president called for “maximum” sanctions against Russia and, in particular, a total trade embargo against his neighbor, including oil and gas.

Three months after the Russian invasion, and at a time when shelling intensifies in the Donbas, Ukraine wants above all weapons – and preferably heavy ones. A claim that was made by a very large national delegation throughout Davos this week.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky appears on a giant screen during his video conference speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos (Switzerland), May 23, 2022. (AFP – Fabrice COFFRINI)

Volodymyr Zelensky reacted to the reaction of the international community, which was too slow for his taste: “If we received 100% of our needs in February, the result would be tens of thousands of saved lives.”

His foreign minister, Dmitry Kuleba, even accused NATO of doing “absolutely nothing” against the invasion.

World War III

There is a tradition in Davos: during a dinner on the sidelines of the meeting, American billionaire George Soros sets out his vision of the state of the world and scratches at those in power.

“The invasion[of Ukraine by Russia]may have been the start of World War III, and our civilization may not survive it,” he said this year.

In addition to the “two dictators” Russian Vladimir Putin and Chinese Xi Jiping, he put former German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the hot seat, whose “special arrangements” are, in his words, one of the reasons for Europe’s “excessive” dependence on Russian gas.

Black clouds over the world economy

“The horizon of the global economy has darkened” and “it will be a difficult year,” warned Kristalina Georgieva, director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

A strong return of inflation, a tightening of the position of central banks, an increase in public debt, a slowdown in China… Alarm signals for the global economy are multiplying.

On the verge of a recession? In developed countries, this is not foreseen “yet”, but this does not mean that this is not foreseen,” Georgieva said.

At the same time, “we will see recessions in some countries that have not recovered from the Covid crisis, are very dependent on Russia or food imports and already have vulnerabilities,” she warned.

Return of the food riots?

“We take food from those who are hungry to give it to the hungry”: According to David Beasley, head of the World Food Program (WFP), “conditions are worse today” than in 2007-2008, the time of the food riots.

Truck loading with wheat on March 24, 2022 in Izmail, Ukraine (AFP - BULENT KILIC)Truck loading with wheat on March 24, 2022 in Izmail, Ukraine (AFP – BULENT KILIC)

“What do you think will happen if you take a nation that normally grows enough food for 400 million people and push it aside?” he said, referring to Ukraine’s breadbasket for the world.

Achim Steiner, head of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), speaks of more than 200 million people suffering from acute hunger around the world. And “when people can no longer feed themselves and governments are no longer able to feed them, then politics quickly takes to the streets,” he warns.

“We need safe corridors on the Black Sea (for Ukrainian agricultural production). The harvest will be next month,” WTO Secretary General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala recalled, adding that “the UN Secretary General is participating in the discussions.”

forgotten climate

The war in Ukraine should not be used as an “excuse” to weaken energy transition efforts, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said Tuesday.

“We can deal with the Ukrainian crisis, as well as the energy crisis, by dealing with the climate crisis,” he added.

Faced with concerns about the supply of Russian hydrocarbons and skyrocketing prices, “there is a risk that in the short term some of them will burn more coal,” Paul Simpson also acknowledges.

The boss of the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), a reference organization for measuring the environmental performance of companies and governments, hopes, however, eventually to talk about the need to overhaul our energy supply, which could “accelerate the transition” to renewable energy. .

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