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Davos Agenda

Davos 2023: What you need to know about climate, nature and energy

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The planet faces numerous interconnected crises including climate change, here's what you need to know about solving them. Image: Unsplash/NASA

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This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
  • The energy transition, climate crisis and food security are inextricably linked - a message reinforced at Davos 2023.
  • The World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting in Davos gathered global leaders to accelerate progress towards reaching net-zero, nature-positive targets.
  • Here’s what you need to know about climate, nature and energy today - and the sessions at Davos 2023 that were dedicated to solving the issues.

The climate crisis was high on the agenda at Davos 2023. The World Economic Forum and more than 45 partners launched the Giving to Amplify Earth Action (GAEA), at Davos 2023. The GAEA is a global initiative to fund and grow new and existing public, private and philanthropic partnerships (PPPPs) to help unlock the $3 trillion of financing needed each year to reach net zero, reverse nature loss and restore biodiversity by 2050.

Current funding for the energy transition is slow and inadequate, and a new approach is needed to get capital flowing.

“We are at a tipping point in our efforts to put the planet back on track to meet our climate ambitions. To reach the speed and scale required to heal the Earth’s systems, we need to unlock not only private capital and government funds, but also the philanthropy sector as a truly catalytic force to achieve the necessary acceleration,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder of the World Economic Forum.

An infographic showing how gas pries have risen this year.
How gas prices have risen this year and how emissions must be reduced. Image: IEA

At the meeting they discussed in detail the inextricable links between the climate crisis, nature's collapse, the energy transition and global food security.

They explored how new approaches and partnerships can lead to new solutions - such as leveraging philanthropy in new ways, driving climate adaptation and spurring more ambitious, comprehensive and sustainable infrastructure investment plans that can stabilize the natural world while helping the world meet the 2030 emissions reduction targets.

Here's what to know about what top leaders at the Annual Meeting discussed in order to tackle the nature and climate crisis, with highlights of articles to read and watch.

The full Centre for Nature and Climate programme can be found here.

Nature and climate on the agenda during the Annual Meeting 2023 in Davos

These are the key sessions to watch from the Annual Meeting 2023:

What are the critical vulnerabilities and how can leaders provide targeted interventions through the food-energy-water nexus?

Explore the connection between the health of the poles and the health of the planet and how Indigenous communities are promoting harmony with nature in their way of life.

What visionary leadership is needed for systems thinking, transformative solutions and global collaboration to build a more inclusive, prosperous and sustainable future?

Between Sharm el-Sheikh and Dubai, what are the imperatives to ensure global cooperation on climate action in the face of multiple pressures and crises?

What are the enabling governance, finance, infrastructure and innovations required to safeguard and restore our freshwater systems?

The launch of the Ocean 20 agenda under the G20 Presidency of Indonesia provides a platform for collective action on generating a sustainable ocean economy. This discussion provides the science-business-policy lens on the pressures confronting the ocean and identifies the areas for responsible stewardship.

The climate and nature crisis in numbers

43%

How much emissions need to drop by 2030

2.3bn

The number of people that were food insecure in 2021

20m

The number of Africans facing extreme hunger

7%

The share of global emissions from the concrete and cement industry

This is a moment for us to be radical. The technologies are there, we just need leadership that has the courage to do it.

Jim Hagemann Snabe, Chairman, Siemens AG

This is a moment for us to be radical. The technologies are there, we just need leadership that has the courage to do it

What to read: Saving the planet on Agenda

Ahead of each meeting, leaders in business, government and civil society share key messages and thought leadership. Here is a sampling of articles and op-eds tackling the climate crisis.

A selection of resources on nature and climate from the World Economic Forum

These articles and resources can help provide important foundations for those looking to better dig into the climate crisis.

World Economic Forum Head of Climate, Antonia Gawel and Nathan Cooper, Lead, Partnerships and Engagement Strategy, Climate Action Platform, summarize the sessions the Forum held alongside COP27 and look at some of the successes of the summit.

The inaugural Net-Zero Industry Tracker report sets out the Forum’s ambition to establish a robust tracking platform that supports the emergence of low-carbon industries by the end of the decade. Industrial sectors account for nearly 40% of global energy consumption and more than 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The transformation of these sectors is pivotal to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.

From robots that sort plastic waste, to sustainable solutions for the world’s forests, entrepreneurs are tackling some of the most pressing issues affecting their communities and beyond through UpLink, the Forum’s open innovation platform in partnership with Salesforce and Deloitte. Since January 2020, UpLink has introduced more than 260 social entrepreneurs to sources of support and investment to help them scale their solutions.

The Forum's Net Zero Carbon Cities programme brings together businesses with leaders from city, regional and national government level to localize and accelerate urban progress to net zero. So far the toolbox of solutions has included the re-purposing of a 1970s university building to re-use its carbon in Singapore, and an innovative district heating network connected to almost 90% of buildings in Stockholm, Sweden.

Together with the Clean Air Fund, the Forum launched the Alliance of Clean Air at COP26 in 2021. Since then, 16 influential business leaders have committed to measuring and reducing air pollutants coming from their operations and value chains.

  • Nature-based solutions

1t.org is part of the Forum’s efforts to accelerate nature-based solutions and was set up to support the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. It's seeking to mobilize a global movement to conserve, restore and grow 1 trillion trees by 2030. The Forum also hosts the Tropical Forest Alliance, which is using the power of collective action to drive the world's transition to deforestation-free supply chains, ensuring a forest-positive future.

Understanding key priorities

Key priority: The energy crisis, food security and the climate crisis: A global context

Record high prices of natural gas, electricity and oil in 2022 have contributed to soaring inflation, which has pushed some families into poverty, as the cost of buying food has risen. It’s also brought economies to the brink of recession.

In the Forum's Global Risks Report 2023, the cost-of-living crisis is the most severe global risk over the next two years. Biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse is seen one of the fastest deteriorating global risks over the next decade, and environmental risks make up six of the top 10 risks over the next 10 years

The need to transition away from fossil fuels is greater than ever. As the IEA notes, contrary to adding to the rise in energy prices, a wider supply of clean energy sources and technologies “would have protected consumers and mitigated some of the upward pressure on fuel prices”.

Discover

How is the World Economic Forum facilitating the transition to clean energy?

The impacts of the energy crisis and climate catastrophes on food security are uneven across the world. “Over 3 million Kenyans and 20 million Africans are facing extreme hunger due to the effects of the climate crisis. The war in Ukraine will only exacerbate these terrifyingly high levels of food insecurity,” Elizabeth Wathuti, Founder of the Green Generation Initiative told world leaders at Davos in May.

Meanwhile, the planet continues to warm as greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere are at record highs.

The past eight years are likely to have been the hottest on record and 2022 is set to have been the fifth or sixth hottest, according to Global Mean Surface Temperature measurements by the World Meteorological Organization.

As the temperature rises, the frequency and severity of climate-related natural disasters grows.

Key priority: The race to net-zero emissions

In April, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that meeting the Paris Agreement target of keeping warming to 1.5°C would require emissions to “peak before 2025 at the latest” and drop by 43% by 2030. Methane would need to be reduced by around a third.

“It’s now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5°C,” said IPCC Working Group III Co-Chair Jim Skea. “Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible.”

When carbon dioxide emissions reach net zero, the global temperature will stabilize, says the IPCC. For 1.5°C, this means achieving net-zero emissions globally in the early 2050s, while for 2°C, net-zero would need to be reached in the early 2070s.

Agenda

First Movers Coalition: How investing in tech could save the climate

In November, climate leaders met at the UN climate summit, COP27, in Egypt. While there was little progress on further reducing emissions, the main success was a breakthrough agreement to provide loss and damage funding for countries hit hardest by climate disasters.

The World Economic Forum’s First Movers Coalition – essentially a buyers’ club to accelerate decarbonization of the hard-to-abate industry sectors – came together at the climate summit to update on progress and announce that the concrete and cement industry (responsible for around 7% of global emissions) was joining the coalition.

First launched in November 2021 at COP26, the coalition has grown from 25 to 65 member companies, with a collective market value of approximately $8 trillion, and it now includes the aluminium, shipping, steel, trucking and aviation sectors.

Key priority: Regenerating food systems to tackle the climate crisis and food insecurity

In 2021, around 2.3 billion people were moderately or severely food insecure, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s 2022 report, The future of food and agriculture – Drivers and triggers for transformation.

3 key levers to address the urgent global food crisis

In 2023, the world will face a worsening food crisis further compounded by ongoing conflicts, fertilizer shortages depressing harvests, and extreme weather loss and damage to farmlands.

Part of the solution to the interconnected challenges of the climate crisis and food insecurity lies in restoring nature itself.

Natural climate solutions used by the agriculture, forestry and other land use sectors could contribute up to 37% of climate mitigation needed to reach the 2030 climate goals, according to the Nature Conservancy.

Transforming food systems to use climate-smart and regenerative practices could not only turn farmlands and pastures into climate sinks, they could also improve crop yields to feed more people.

Key priority: Addressing resource circularity and pollution

With current rates of consumption, humanity would require almost two Planet Earths to support our resource use. The answer is clear: we must move from a linear, 'make-use-throw' system to a circular one where waste and pollution are minimized, products and materials are kept in use longer and natural systems have time to regenerate

Approximately 90 billion tons of resources are extracted each year to support the global economy, from metals, minerals, fossil fuels to organic materials from plants and animals. But only 9% is recycled and used again, driven by low levels of end-of-use processing and recycling as well as high rates of extraction.

With the acceleration for the energy transition, increased demand and shortage of supply for the metals and materials needed, there is new impetus for us to rethink material use and recycle. The World Bank predicts that the demand for lithium and cobalt could increase by nearly 500% by 2050 to meet the need for decarbonization.

The Annual Meeting focuses on the systems and society-wide solutions that prioritize people, planet and economy within a finite world. How can companies achieve the responsible transformation of industries? How can circular transformation and the adoption of disruptive and sustainable operating and business models be accelerated? What are the strategies available that allow the materials needed to build cities, power the energy transition and manufacture goods go from scarcity to abundance? These are critical questions to consider.

Nature and climate videos to watch

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Davos AgendaClimate ChangeClimate and NatureFuture of the Environment
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Contents
Nature and climate on the agenda during the Annual Meeting 2023 in DavosThe climate and nature crisis in numbersWhat to read: Saving the planet on AgendaA selection of resources on nature and climate from the World Economic ForumUnderstanding key prioritiesNature and climate videos to watch Take our climate change poll

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