Fighting global warming and protecting the environment dominated the discussions on Friday at the World Economic Forum, a month after U.N. climate change talks ended without a binding deal on curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon, whose country is holding the next U.N. climate conference at the end of the year, was laying out his ideas in a session exploring what is next for climate talks. Renault-Nissan head Carlos Ghosn, who has championed electric cars, was also on hand.
Also Friday, Microsoft founder Bill Gates was speaking about how to better target global development aid and was expected to announce new funding to bring vaccines to poor countries.
Yvo De Boer, Head of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, told The Associated Press that recent scandals over climate data have not discredited the view that global warming exists and must be countered.
“What’s happened, it’s unfortunate, it’s bad, it’s wrong, but I don’t think it has damaged the basic science,” he said.
Global warming sceptics have been reinvigorated since a U.N. report warning that Himalayan glaciers could be gone by 2035 turned out to be off by hundreds of years because of a typo - the actual year was 2350 - and by stolen e-mails from the University of East Anglia’s climate science unit.
“Concluding that the Himalayan glaciers are going to disappear later is like being happy about the fact that the Titanic is sinking more slowly than we had originally feared, even though it’s still going to sink,” De Boer said.
De Boer said he was “depressed” after the climate talks in Copenhagen failed to produce a binding accord to cut global carbon emissions and pay poor countries to deal with higher sea levels. But he said it was “feasible” to get all countries on board for an accord in Mexico by the end of 2010.
A key part of the debate, however, is how progress can be made that is not just environmentally effective but also won’t break the bank.
De Boer insisted that climate change was not “off the agenda” of the world after the failure of Copenhagen. He expressed confidence that the business leaders at Davos, who are starting to enjoy an economic recovery after a rough couple of years, would invest anew in renewable energy.
“Energy sector investments that were put on hold because of the crisis are beginning to be made again and I think people will take future climate change policy into account,” he said.