Putin and Xi Jinping in Davos. Why the eco agenda hasn't become a top issue this year

Photo: World Economic Forum

Photo: World Economic Forum

The World Economic Forum in Davos that closed on January 29, 2021 became a special one—the 50th in a row and the first in a completely remote version. In principle, its format has always been advisory and did not imply binding decisions.

It's good to talk about income inequality after arriving at a ski resort by private jet, where a night in a hotel costs the same as the annual average salary in Romania. Or to talk about environmental pollution, as the owner of the largest "dirty" assets of the aluminum production Deripaska did in 2020.

Davos Agenda—first time online

However, this year, due to the pandemic and unprecedented restrictions in the EU, the meeting was postponed. It will take place in Singapore in May 2021. This year the meeting was confined to video presentations. Therefore, this time there were no anti-globalization actions and $46 million for security.

The event was named Davos Agenda and was poorly covered in the media without the usual hangouts on the sidelines and parties at the ski resort.

However, the concentration of politicians, big business, scientists, and thinkers definitely influences the actions of national governments. In any case, Davos is a place for strategizing, reaching consensus and actively negotiating a vision for the near future.

And Davos Agenda remains so even against the background of conference screens and only 1500 participants. Among the virtual guests are Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, European Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen, Prime Ministers of India, Israel, leader of China, so it cannot be said that the meeting is just a tribute to fashion or a remote photo session for the powerful.


Although the fact that the forum continues to be held under the banner of the struggle for the preservation of the environment does not add points to it. Because against the backdrop of the largest recession since 2008, the pandemic and chronic ideological problems in the eurozone, that has already led to Britain's exit from the EU, the environment is still far from the acute problems of the Old World.

Although the benefits of the "green package" for Europe can be endlessly spoken about, as Mrs. von der Leyen did:

  • 40% of energy from renewable sources in 10 years;
  • circular economy;
  • auto on hydrogen...

Pandemic against global warming

But what does the EU have on the scoreboard besides worries about the climate’s fate? The average decline in the eurozone is 6% of GDP: pretty much minus 5% in Germany, record minus 11% in Spain that is heavily dependent on services and tourism. Top 5 members of the European Union are experiencing at least a "10-week vaccine shortage."

The FRG has a budget deficit of 4.8% (the border in Europe, below which it is not recommended to go down, is 3%). France is shaken by protests—first because of the retirement age, then because of the security bill.

What issues were discussed in the context of what had been happening at the past Davos? Climate change and Greta Thunberg's speech, and the pandemic did not even figure in the top ten challenges. Brilliant. Given that 50% of CO2 emissions come from the USA, India, and China. They are also the leaders in plastic pollution, the "creators" of the giant garbage spot in the Pacific Ocean.

And each EU country should synchronize its economic support plan after the COVID-19 crisis with climate change issues, allocating up to a third of the funds for this purpose. Although any efforts by Europe to reduce emissions are vanishing percentages of million tons of emissions by Big Five. It looks like collective madness so far.

Novo-Ogaryovo is on the line

After 12 years of absence at the forum in Davos, Vladimir Putin spoke via video link—he last visited the venue when he was Prime Minister in 2009. He probably doesn't want to leave the cozy bunker too much, and this format has become just a godsend. Because against the backdrop of the continuing isolation of the Russian Federation, the intensifying sanctions on Nord Stream 2, and the growing pressure over Navalny, one has to be active in foreign policy.

Quote"The use of trade barriers and restrictions can lead to the unilateral use of force, which is dangerous,"—the rhetoric about sanctions that make Russia stronger has somehow subtly changed.

Criticism of digital giants who "usurp the natural human right how to live and what position to express"—it is not so easy to rinse now Russian freedom of speech when Trump is banned on social networks.

"The priorities of the Russian Federation are focused on people and families,"—the good old spiritless West and traditional values. "The bubbles of technology companies,"—the top 5 of the US market in terms of capitalization is twice as high as the GDP of the Russian Federation.

Fight in Asia

But Chinese leader Xi Jinping's speech was extremely specific, and its addressee is also clear:

Quote"The international governance should be based on consensus and not on the orders of several countries. It is needed to compete with each other, like in a race, and not beat in the ring."

Beijing was one of the few countries that maintained economic growth of 2%, and for the first time overtook the United States in foreign direct investment.


Amid the fact that the Biden administration is in the midst of a crisis due to COVID-19 and almost 900,000 new unemployed per week,there are already forecasts that China could overtake America by 2028. For the restrictions and half a million deaths from the virus will slow down the economic recovery of the current hegemon.

So the Xiaomi sanctions and tariffs are probably not the last stage of the ongoing fierce trade war, which does not end with Trump's departure. No wonder Biden appoints Catherine Tai, a traditional critic of China's economic expansion, as sales representative.

An interesting speech was made by the Prime Minister of India with an ambitious plan to vaccinate 300 million people by the summer and to produce tens of millions of vaccine doses for developing countries. By the way, the Ukrainian contract for 12 million doses is the pharmaceutical capacity of India, so his promise is already starting to come true.

And in general, almost all Western elites with their speeches about "green" economy, "rebooting capitalism" that should ensure gender equality in supervisory boards and equal salaries, are increasingly inclined towards the leftist discourse.

Quote"To fulfill our duty to society and go beyond legal obligations," is a veiled offer to owners to pay more in times of crisis.

This is all happening against the backdrop of the fact that the ambitions of regional leaders are clearly beginning to go beyond their regions. Many compare the current situation with the "Roaring 20s", the subsequent collapse of the Western economy and the Great Depression. Whether history repeats itself as a farce or as a tragedy—the next few years will show.

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