The climate moralism arms race in Davos, Switzerland, intensified on Thursday as activist Greta Thunberg accused attendees of the World Economic Forum of hypocrisy regarding the environment.
The 20-year-old Swede participated in a panel discussion moderated by CNBC in the resort town, which is presently hosting hundreds of government officials and corporate leaders for the World Economic Forum’s annual conference. Thunberg contended that the green of the dollar was more important to the attendees than the green of the planet.
“We are right now in Davos where basically the people who are mostly fueling the destruction of the planet, the people who are at the very core of the climate crisis, the people who are investing in fossil fuels, and yet somehow these are the people that we seem to rely on solving our problems,” she remarked. “They have proven time and time again that they are not prioritizing that. They are prioritizing self-greed, corporate greed and short-term economic profits above people and above planet.”
German authorities recently detained Thunburg after she and other activists protested the expansion of a coal mine in the town of Lutzerath. Even though video later emerged showing the police effectively allowing the media to take pictures and film the 20-year-old before they removed her from the area, Thunberg added that the world should be listening to her and other activists before politicians and executives.
“These people are going to go as far as they possibly can as long as they can get away with it,” she continued. “They will continue to invest in fossil fuels, they will continue to throw people under the bus for their own gain.”
Climate policy has been a prominent theme at the World Economic Forum even as the Russian invasion of Ukraine bottlenecks worldwide energy supplies. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen affirmed during her remarks at the conference that “Europe will always stand with the Ukrainian people” and commented that policymakers would endeavor to “reach net zero” carbon emissions despite the energy shortfalls. Former Vice President Al Gore embarked upon a speech in which he claimed that the oceans are currently boiling.
Thunberg was not the only activist to levy charges of hypocrisy against the World Economic Forum. Greenpeace, an international climate advocacy organization, issued a harsh rebuke of attendees for traveling to the conference on hundreds of private jets. The vast majority of the more than 1,000 planes which entered Davos amid last year’s conference were embarking on short-haul flights of less than 500 miles that “could have easily been train or car trips,” according to research published by the group, while one plane traveled only 13 miles to attend the event.
“Europe is experiencing the warmest January days ever recorded and communities around the world are grappling with extreme weather events supercharged by the climate crisis,” Klara Maria Schenk, a campaigner for Greenpeace, said in a statement. “Meanwhile, the rich and powerful flock to Davos in ultra-polluting, socially inequitable private jets to discuss climate and inequality behind closed doors. Davos has a perfectly adequate railway station, still these people can’t even be bothered to take the train.”
The research concluded that private jet travel to and from Davos during last year’s conference produced emissions equivalent to those caused in one week by 350,000 cars. Private jet emissions linked to Davos quadrupled during the week of the meeting.