At Davos, climate activists say major issues ignored

May 26, 2022, 9:41 AM | Updated: 9:51 am
CAPTION CORRECTS THE NAME - Ilyess El Kortbi, climate activist shows a poster in colours of Ukraini...

CAPTION CORRECTS THE NAME - Ilyess El Kortbi, climate activist shows a poster in colours of Ukrainian flag during a climate protest alongside the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Thursday, May 26, 2022. The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum is taking place in Davos from May 22 until May 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

(AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — At a small plaza in Davos, a picturesque Swiss town in the middle of the Alps, about 50 climate activists gathered on Thursday to bring attention to issues they said were largely ignored during this week’s World Economic Forum meeting.

They said more attention needed to be on human suffering, particularly in developing countries experiencing severe weather events like heat waves and floods. They said there was no talk at all of reparations, often referred to as “loss and damage,” for poor countries that have contributed little to global warming but are experiencing some of the worst effects. And finally, they said the calls for a transition to renewables were hollow, as they were not joined by talk of plans to phase out fossil fuels.

“Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Fossil fuels have to go!” some chanted at the gathering, about a 10-minute walk from the main convention center, where meetings between politicians, business leaders, scientists, academics, journalists and others took place Monday through Thursday.

The elite forum, the first in person since 2020, was held at a time that the world’s top climate scientists have warned that greenhouse gases need to be sharply curbed this decade to keep temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times. Emissions like carbon dioxide warm the planet, which leads to destabilizing weather events and other problems.

Ilyess ElKortbi, a climate activist from Ukraine who fled to Germany after Russia invaded in late February, said before coming to Davos he thought that annual United Nations climate summits were the “worst places with empty words and empty promises.” What he saw here was worse.

“People ignored the facts,” he said. “People continued to speak as if nothing happened while children and families die every day in Ukraine and lose their future just as I lost my future.”

ElKortbi, who said two of his friends had died in the war, argued that the invasion would not have happened had the European Union fully moved away from fossil fuels years ago, as many scientists and activists have long advocated. ElKortbi noted that much oil and gas that Europe uses comes from Russia, so buying that energy essentially helps fund the war.

The forum did include many discussions about climate change and the environment. Of the more than 270 panels, 90 of them, or about one third, were related to climate change, from biodiversity loss to technologies focused on removing carbon dioxide from the air. Those panels also included a handful that featured youth climate activists such as Cassidy Miligruak Kramer from Alaska, Helena Gualinga from Ecuador and Vanessa Nakate from Uganda.

Government officials, such as U.S. Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry and Denmark Environment Minister Lea Wermelin, spoke about the need to transition to green energies and hold companies to account when it came to their emissions. And there was an announcement of the expansion of a large public-private partnership to buy green energies across supply chains of companies, all aimed at sending market signals to speed up innovation.

But for young activists, who often argue that younger generations will inherit climate change problems not confronted today, the problem wasn’t the lack of discussion around climate change, but rather what things were not a focus. There was a lot of talk about economic growth, fears of a recession and even green technologies, but little about how to help people being hurt by climate change, they said.

“Many people here are disconnected from the reality,” said Nakate, who spoke to the small group of demonstrators. “They are in a bubble. They are in their own world.”

In many ways, Davos is indeed its own world. The town of about 10,000 people, in one of the world’s most expensive nations, is a popular for skiing in the winter and for hiking and other outdoor activities in the summer. Boutique shops and hotels line a handful of central streets. Stunning views of the mountains, some with snowcaps even in May, can be taken in from just about anywhere.

Activists who can come, either with sponsorships or on their own, either stay in adjoining towns, where lodging is a little cheaper, or crash in sleeping bags and tents at an area called Arctic Base Camp. They and others, such as scientists, also participate in panels around town that are not part of the World Economic Forum program.

“Was it worth it?” said Gualinga, the Ecuadorean activist who focuses on oil companies operating in the Amazon, reflecting on the week. “I think it is essential” for activists to be here, she said.

“We’re not going to be able to find the solutions that we need if the people that are affected by the climate change, by the fossil fuels industry, are not directly active in the decision making.”


Peter Prengaman is The Associated Press’ global climate and environmental news director. Follow him here:


Associated Press climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. See more about AP’s climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Tom Cruise gestures for photographers during the red carpet event to promote their latest movie Top...
Associated Press

‘Elvis,’ ‘Top Gun’ tie for box-office crown with $30.5M each

"Elvis" shook up theaters with an estimated $30.5 million in weekend sales, but -- in a box-office rarity -- it tied "Top Gun: Maverick."
20 hours ago
Colorado Avalanche left wing Artturi Lehkonen (62) reacts after scoring on Tampa Bay Lightning goal...
Associated Press

Avalanche dethrone Lightning to win Stanley Cup for 3rd time

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Colorado Avalanche are back atop hockey’s mountain after dethroning the two-time defending champions. Behind a goal and an assist from Nathan MacKinnon, the Avalanche won the Stanley Cup for the third time in franchise history and first in more than two decades by beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in […]
20 hours ago
In this photo released by the Longmont Police Department the Life Choices building in Longmont, Col...
Associated Press

Police investigating fire at Colorado pregnancy center

LONGMONT, Colo. (AP) — A weekend fire at a Christian pregnancy center in north-central Colorado is being investigated as a possible arson, police in Longmont said. The fire at Life Choices was reported at 3:17 a.m. Saturday, hours after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and said abortion laws would be decided by […]
20 hours ago
The Very Rev. Kris Stubna, rector of St. Paul Cathedral Parish, preaches on the topic of abortion a...
Associated Press

After Roe’s demise, clergy lead faithful in praise, laments

Praise and lament for the overturning of abortion rights filled sacred spaces this weekend as clergy across the U.S. rearranged worship plans or rewrote sermons to provide their religious context — and competing messages — about the historic moment. Abortion is a visceral issue for deeply divided religious Americans. Some are sad or angry in […]
20 hours ago
Associated Press

Poisonous bite leads German police to farm with 110 snakes

BERLIN (AP) — Police in Germany said Sunday they discovered more than 110 dangerous snakes on a farm after a woman who lived there sought medical treatment for a poisonous bite. The 35-year-old woman drove to a hospital in Salzgitter, near Hannover, early Sunday and told doctors there that one of her rattlesnakes bit her […]
20 hours ago
Associated Press

Average US gasoline price drops 4 cents to $5.05 per gallon

CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) — The average U.S. price of regular-grade gasoline fell by 4 cents per gallon in the past two weeks to $5.05 for regular grade, it was reported Sunday. It was the first drop in nine weeks and came with a drop in oil prices amid deepening global inflation fears, industry analyst Trilby […]
20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
Canvas Annuity

The secret to guaranteed retirement income

Annuities aren’t really a secret, but they are so misunderstood that they might as well be. Once you understand what an annuity is and how it can benefit you, you could decide this “secret” is the perfect supplement to your retirement plan.
At Davos, climate activists say major issues ignored