Davos WEF
Davos WEF

Trump will be challenged on climate change at Davos, WEF president says

Key Points
  • U.S. President Trump visit Switzerland on Tuesday for the World Economic Forum in Davos.
  • The annual WEF report has highlighted environmental concerns as the top 5 risks over the next decade.
  • Trump has preferred to address economic concerns and energy industry needs over climate worries.
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WEF president on climate change: 'This needs to be a decade of action'

President Donald Trump will likely be questioned on his climate change beliefs when he visits Switzerland for the World Economic Forum on Tuesday next week.

That's the opinion of WEF President Borge Brende who told CNBC's Steve Sedgwick Wednesday that Trump appreciated candid conversation about any topic.

The Norwegian politician added he was "pretty sure" that when Trump was in Davos, surrounded by 2,000 world CEOs and environmental leaders that climate change and a loss of biodiversity would be on the agenda.

"On climate change, that will be a topic that will be raised with him I am sure when he is in Davos … We like frank conversations to move the world forward," said Brende.

Trump has previously stated that the U.S. has one of "the cleanest climates there are." He rolled back a slew of Obama-era environmental regulations that attempt to protect from environmental accidents or climate change impacts and his administration is keen to remove impediments to U.S. energy production and independence.

In June 2017, Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris climate accord, a UN agreement which was signed by 195 countries at the COP21 climate conference in 2015.

"This agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries obtaining a financial advantage over the United States," Trump said at the time of withdrawal.

COP21 is the world's first legally-binding climate deal. Its key aim was to keep the average global temperature from rising by 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world is now about 1 degrees Celsius warmer than before the industrial revolution.

Trump and Thunberg cross paths

Next week, the Swiss alpine resort of Davos is hosting the 50th annual World Economic Forum and while Trump will grab the most media attention, other notable attendees include teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg.

Brende said most world leaders are recognizing that the 2020s must be when the world moves forward on tackling carbon emissions, rather than just "moving around the deckchairs of the Titanic."

The 54-year-old is in London to launch WEF's Global Risks annual report which is based on a survey of more than 750 experts and business leaders.

For the first time in the report's history, environmental threats account for the top five long-term risks and include: extreme weather, climate action failure, natural disaster, biodiversity loss and human impact on the environment.

Brende said Wednesday that the cost of not dealing with climate change would be too high to bear and cited the current Australian bush fires as an example of the sort of disaster that could become a regular occurrence if action isn't taken.

The Conservative Party lawmaker added that raising the cost of releasing carbon into the atmosphere must be pursued.

"We have to make it more expensive to emit and we have to see new technologies being introduced," said Brende, outlining that more expensive carbon will hasten the switch to renewable sources of energy.

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