Heard in Davos 2009: Dispatches from the Conference

Davos Kicks Off with Environmental Focus, Unexpected Snow

What is Davos?

Davos 2007 has kicked off under the official title of "The Shifting Power Equation," but for this reporter is might as well be known as WEF 07 'Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks."

Let me explain what I mean. Outside broadcasts are all about walking and talking, mixing guest interviews with pieces to camera, both live and pre-recorded. But this year some bright spark, and I’m not going to own up to this one, had the great idea of getting me up the mountain on a pair of skis and trying to record a shot of me skiing into vision, making a swish stop just in front of the camera, whilst all the while explaining that we had 800-plus CEOs and chairmen in attendance this year.

That's all very well and good until the tenth take when your stamina on blades, sidestepping back up to the starting point, is being tested to the limit. But enough about my physical prowess, let’s chat about the complete editorial reversal events forced upon you.

That same pre-record was also going to open with the editorial line 'There may be less snow in Davos this year...' but within hours of arriving at 5,000 feet the heavens opened and as I write forty-eight hours later the downpour shows no sign of abating. So much for my link to climate change and global warming.

On the topic of global warming and the environment there are no less than 17 dedicated sessions out of the program total of 223 this year. Our very own Maria Bartiromo kicked off Wednesday’s action with a packed-to-the-rafters debate on Making Green Pay. This is what Davos is about, quality speaker after quality speaker wading into a lively session with many thought-provoking contributions.

I especially liked the comment from a professor from Sao Paolo University who noted George Bush's State of the Union commitment to ethanol and reducing the reliance on oil. He congratulated Bush on arriving at a partial solution to the world’s energy woes, an arrival that, he noted wryly, Brazil has achieved decades earlier.

On the guest front I interviewed eight top-notch interviewees on 'Squawk Box Europe' this morning. Seven out of eight were, on balance, bullish and going along with the general air of optimism in Davos this year. All I can say is thank heavens for Stephen Roach, the ultra-doomster of Morgan Stanley. He's worried about China, U.S. spending, BOJ independence and a host of other issues. All this pessimism, he tells me, has got him booted off the panel on the future of the dollar. Who says WEF isn’t a broad church?