As the world’s elites gather at their annual shindig in Davos (The World Economic Forum), they have announced that their top five risks for the next ten years are climate related, from extreme weather to lack of climate action. It’s true that we are in Decade Zero when it comes to the planetary crisis – but many of those gathered at Davos are the very people blocking ambitious climate action.
And this is not the only crisis facing the planet. Scratch below the surface and it will come as no surprise that global inequality continues to worsen despite all the warm words from last year’s Davos meeting.
The latest Oxfam report shows that the top 1% now have twice as much wealth as 6.9 billion people, and poverty and inequality have worsened both in rich countries and globally. Half the people in the world live on less than $5 a day, with billions struggling for access to decent housing, education, healthcare, electricity and food.
For many, the image of the richest people in the world sipping champagne at a luxury ski resort and pretending that they aren’t responsible for fuelling both crises is hard to swallow. It is the global economic model of neo-liberalism that they have promoted, with its unfettered corporate power, de-regulation, and lower taxes for the rich, which has driven global inequality to such unprecedented levels – and pushed us to the brink of planetary crisis.
The world’s elites should be putting up their hands and accepting responsibility. And we shouldn’t be looking to those in Davos – the very people causing and benefiting from the crises – for solutions. Instead we need to come together and call for government regulation and a world-wide action plan. It is only when we join the dots and address both inequality and the climate crisis through a Global Green New Deal that we will be able to pull back from the cliff edge.
We must invest in public services, end privatisation, pay living wages, and implement binding regulations on corporations. We must create an action plan for rich countries and multi-nationals to take on their fair share of the global effort, by cutting their emissions to zero by 2030, and by transferring finance and technology to the Global South.
Failing to act will lead to an even greater global crisis of poverty, inequality, forced displacement and climate violence. We face a crisis of democracy where our politicians act in the interests of the elites, fuelling the rise of even more far-right and authoritarian leaders, as countries lead a race to the bottom with their mantra of walls and fences.