A report prepared for next week’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, identified as the most urgent global t\risk to be the ever increasing tension between the world’s major powers which is creating roadblocks to get together collective action to take concrete measures against climate change.
According to a survey of around 1,000 experts and decision-makers, environmental issues topped the list of concerns in a year that was marked by many incident s of extreme weather events, notes the WEF’s annual global risks report.
The report however noted that the level of international cooperation that is necessary to prevent future global warming could not be reached because of protectionist measures implemented by US president Donald Trump against China and the European Union in 2018.
“Global risks are intensifying but the collective will to tackle them appears to be lacking. Instead, divisions are hardening,” the report said. About 90 per cent of the respondents expected the worsening of relations between the leading powers of the world in 2019, the report further noted.
“The world’s move into a new phase of strongly state-centred politics, noted in last year’s Global Risks Report, continued throughout 2018.”
In the second-half of 2018, there was a slowdown of the global economy. The report predicted that due to growing geo-economic tensions, global growth would also be muted in 2019. The report underscored the anticipation of further erosion of multilateral trading rules and agreements further erosion of multilateral trading rules and agreements by 88 per cent of the respondents.
“With global trade and economic growth at risk in 2019, there is a more urgent need than ever to renew the architecture of international cooperation,” said Børge Brende, president of the World Economic Forum.
“We simply do not have the gunpowder to deal with the kind of slowdown that current dynamics might lead us towards. What we need now is coordinated, concerted action to sustain growth and to tackle the grave threats facing our world today,” he said.
The risks report was dominated by environmental risks. The report also however identified issues such as cybersecurity breaches to be long term concerns in the near future.
Man-made disasters, natural disasters, failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation, extreme weather events and biodiversity loss are the five environmental risks tracked by the report.
WEF, the Zurich Insurance Group and the professional services firm Marsh & McLennan prepare the risk report in a combined manner.
“2018 was sadly a year of historic wildfires, continued heavy flooding and increasing greenhouse gas emissions. It is no surprise that in 2019, environmental risks once again dominate the list of major concerns. So, too, does the growing likelihood of environmental policy failure or a lack of timely policy implementation,” said Alison Martin, group chief risk officer at Zurich Insurance Group.
There was an immediate need for making significant enhancement of the infrastructure resources so that global community could effectively react to change to allow for easy and faster adaptation to new environment and changing of the global society to a low-carbon economy, Martin said.
“By 2040, the investment gap in global infrastructure is forecast to reach $18tn against a projected requirement of $97tn. Against this backdrop, we strongly recommend that businesses develop a climate resilience adaptation strategy and act on it now,” she added.
(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)