Davos WEF

Davos WEF

WEF identifies global power rivalries as the 'super-risk' to climate crisis progress

Key Points
  • Ahead of the meeting, the forum's latest Global Risks Report 2020, published Wednesday, said collaboration between world leaders and business leaders would be needed "more than ever" to stop severe threats to the climate.
  • It also warned that political inaction could endanger public health and technology systems.
  • Borge Brende, president at WEF, said: "The cost of inaction today far exceeds the cost of action."
U.S. President Donald Trump attends a bilateral meeting with China's President Xi Jinping during the G-20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

A unilateral world of "great power rivalries" is likely to threaten an urgent need for action on key global priorities, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The group's warning comes as policymakers, business leaders and investors prepare to travel to Davos, Switzerland for the forum's annual conference.

The January get-together kicks off on Monday, with those in attendance scheduled to focus on the intensifying climate crisis.

Ahead of the meeting, the forum's latest Global Risks Report 2020, published Wednesday, said collaboration between world leaders and business leaders would be needed "more than ever" to stop severe threats to the climate.

It also warned that political inaction could endanger public health and technology systems.

Speaking at the launch of the report in London, Mirek Dusek, deputy head of the center for geopolitical and regional affairs at WEF, said an increasingly unsettled world was the "super-risk" to much-needed action.

A more polarized and competitive world, in which states are increasingly viewing opportunities through unilateral lenses, would most likely as a "drag" on us being able to tackle global issues, Dusek said.

'Cost of inaction today far exceeds the cost of action'

The WEF's theme, officially recognized as "Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World," follows a year which reportedly saw the hottest year on record for the world's oceans, the second-hottest year for global average temperatures and wildfires from the U.S. to the Amazon to Australia.

The event, which is often criticized for being out of touch with the real world, has said it aims to assist governments and international institutions in tracking progress toward the Paris Agreement and the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.

"The cost of inaction today far exceeds the cost of action," Borge Brende, president at WEF, said at the same event on Wednesday.

"That is why we now have to start to implement the necessary policies to deal with climate change," he added.

The UN has recognized climate change as "the defining issue of our time," with a recent report calling the crisis "the greatest challenge to sustainable development."