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Several American officials reportedly enjoyed a lavish lunch with some of the planet’s most powerful corporate leaders and World Economic Forum Chair Klaus Schwab during the organization’s annual conference in Davos, Switzerland.
The organization is a leading proponent of stakeholder capitalism, an approach to investments that says executives must consider the needs of communities and other parties in addition to shareholders, as well as increased cooperation between public and private actors. Officials such as Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), and “a few members of the House of Representatives” took part in a luncheon at the conference alongside prominent executives on Monday, according to a report from CNBC.
One attendee told the outlet that Coons and Manchin each addressed the crowd of business leaders. Coons reportedly discussed efforts to fund the Ukrainian war effort against Russia, while Manchin commented on the merits of American energy independence.
Coons told the outlet that “about 50 CEOs” would attend the luncheon at the Hotel Schatzalp, a property situated in the Alps and decorated in belle époque style. Among the executives in attendance at the lunch was Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Antonio Neri.
European leaders are currently incensed by the Inflation Reduction Act, a law signed by President Joe Biden last year, because the package subsidized American electric vehicle manufacturing and neglected to offer the same benefits to European automakers. Manchin said during an interview with POLITICO Europe that the continent’s leaders are “hyper-hypocritical” following several decades of their own protectionist measures.
“That bill was designed to basically strengthen the United States so that we can help our allies and friends, which need it right now,” the centrist lawmaker remarked. “And if anybody needs it, the E.U. needs it. And without that, we’re not going to be and maintain the superpower status of the world if we’re not energy independent.”
Manchin said that he has admonished European leaders to refrain from regulations on fossil fuels and instead emphasize technological innovations. “I told them, I said, the most important thing is basically you cannot eliminate your way to clean your climate,” he added. “You can innovate it, and that’s what we’re doing in the U.S.”
Coons told the outlet that European powers grew “too reliant on Russian energy,” commenting that he desires to “find a path forward” and discuss “the alignment of values and priorities.”
The theme of this year’s World Economic Forum conference is “Cooperation in a Fragmented World,” which involves “how we can tackle the numerous and interlinked challenges the world is facing and find solutions through public-private cooperation,” according to a press release from the organization. Executives scheduled to speak or participate in panel events include Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, while political leaders such as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska will attend the conference.
Several officials from the Biden administration, which has partnered with the World Economic Forum through the First Movers Coalition, a “public-private partnership to commercialize clean technologies through advance purchase commitments,” are representing the United States. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry will speak on a panel about government and corporate actors using “the power of catalytic philanthropy” for climate investments.
Representative Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL) and Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) will likewise make the pilgrimage to Davos in spite of hesitancy toward the World Economic Forum among conservatives. The officials have released statements claiming that they will attempt to bring American founding principles to the controversial event.