The arms race in climate moralism in Davos, Switzerland, accelerated on Thursday as activist Greta Thunberg accused WEF participants of having environmental hypocrisy.
In the resort town, which is currently hosting hundreds of government officials and business executives for the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting, the 20-year-old Swede took part in a panel discussion conducted by CNBC. According to Thunberg, the guests prioritized the green of the dollar over the green of the environment.
As she put it, “We are currently in Davos where there are essentially the people that are primarily fueling the destruction of our planet, the people that are at the very heart of the climate problem, the people that are making investments into fossil fuels, but somehow this is the people which we seem to depend on trying to solve our problems. They have repeatedly demonstrated that they do not prioritize that. Corporate greed, self-interest, and short-term economic gain are given precedence above the needs of others and the world.”
Thunburg was recently detained by German authorities after she and other activists opposed the growth of a coal mine in the town of Lutzerath. Thunberg stated that the world should pay more attention to her and other activists than politicians and executives, even though a video later surfaced showing the police letting the media film and photograph the 20-year-old before removing her from the area.
She continued, “As long as they can get away with it, these folks will go as far as they possibly can. They will keep investing in fossil fuels and continue putting people in danger for their own gain.”
Even as the Russian invasion of Ukraine chokes off the world’s energy sources, climate policy has been a major discussion point at the World Economic Forum. Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, stated during her speech at the conference that “Europe will always stand with the Ukrainian people” and added that despite the energy shortages, policymakers will strive to “achieve net zero” carbon emissions. Al Gore, a former vice president, began a lecture by asserting that the oceans are currently boiling.
Thunberg wasn’t the only protester to accuse the World Economic Forum of hypocrisy. International climate advocacy group Greenpeace harshly criticized guests for flying to the summit on so many private jets. According to research released by the organization, the most of the over 1,000 planes that arrived in Davos during the conference last year were flying short distances (under 500 miles), which “could just have easily been car or train trips,” while one airplane only traveled 13 miles to get to the conference.
In a statement, Greenpeace campaigner Klara Maria Schenk noted that “Europe is seeing the warmest Jan. days that have ever been recorded and that people around the globe are struggling with extreme weather conditions accelerated by the climate catastrophe. Meanwhile, the wealthy and powerful fly to Davos in socially inequitable, highly polluting private aircraft to discuss inequality and the environment behind closed doors. And although Davos has a perfectly good train station, these people aren’t bothered to ride the train.
According to the study, private aircraft travel to and from Davos during the meeting last year generated emissions comparable to those created by 350,000 cars over the course of a week. During the week of the gathering, private jet emissions related to Davos quadrupled.