A tough agenda for Davos: war, climate, recession

STORY: The Davos get-together for global elites got into full swing on Tuesday (January 17).

It’s back in its snowy January slot after years of health-crisis disruption.

But while record attendance is expected, the event opens against a tough backdrop.

That includes growing fears over climate change and global recession.

And then there’s the fact of war in Europe.

Among the opening speakers was Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska:

“How does the world expect to reach climate neutrality, if it can’t even stop the burning down of whole Ukrainian cities.”

She said she would deliver a letter from her husband, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

It contains Ukraine’s peace formula for ending the war.

Tuesday also saw a major initiative by the EU to aid its green industry.

"We will put forward a new Net-Zero Industry Act.”

European Commission chief Ursula Von Der Leyen unveiled plans to help drive a shift to clean production.

That’s meant to help the bloc rival incentives on offer in the U.S., though World Trade Organization boss Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala warned against a subsidy arms race:

"If it's a race, then you know that of course, emerging markets and developing countries will not be able to compete."

Underlying all the Davos talk though is fear of a major new global slowdown.

A survey of CEO mood published to coincide with the event sank to its lowest level on record.

Figures out from China the same day underlined the danger: the country saw its worst growth in nearly half a century during 2022.

Fans of Davos say it brings together people with the power to make a real difference on all such problems.

Skeptics will wait to see if it delivers action as well as talk.