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Climate Inaction – and “Dramatic” Consequences – Top Global Threat List

Climate Inaction – and “Dramatic” Consequences – Top Global Threat List

  • Failures to act on climate pledges and the resulting extreme weather are now the top risk facing the world, World Economic Forum experts say

Governments are struggling to adopt climate-smart policies as COVID-19 hits economic activity and forces them to focus instead on tackling surging social inequality, the World Economic Forum (WEF) said on Tuesday.

Failure to implement emissions-cutting pledges and the “dramatic consequences” in terms of devastating floods, storms and wildfires are now the world’s biggest threats, the group’s annual risks report found.

“Our planet is on fire and we have to deal with this. This is a risk we really, really know. We cannot say we are faced with a blind spot,” WEF President Borge Brende said in an online news conference about the survey.

Threats to social cohesion, such as widening income and wealth inequality and huge differences in access to vaccines around the world, emerged as another major worry in the WEF poll of nearly 1,000 business, government and academic leaders.

They said an increase in such threats and the need of governments to prioritise urgent, pandemic-related problems were hampering efforts to switch to a low-carbon economy to fight climate change.

In particular, concerns about achieving a “just transition” to a climate-smart economy are growing as workers and communities dependent on fossil fuel industries or subsidies object to changes they see as unfair.

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“Governments have a balancing act to work with,” said Saadia Zahidi, WEF managing director, referring to the need to revive economies while protecting jobs, dealing with health threats and achieving a green economic transition.

Rising geopolitical tensions – over everything from vaccine distribution to responsibility to act on climate threats – also make winning global cooperation to tackle big threats harder, Brende said.

When it comes to climate change, “are those solutions going to be developed in this fractured world? Let’s see,” he said.

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