Some of the world's most powerful people are worried about the environment, finally.
Climate change ranks as the No. 1 concern of global leaders, according to a new survey from the World Economic Forum. It's the 11th year that the World Economic Forum has published the survey, which polls 750 of the group's members, including CEOs and leaders and experts in various fields. The organization publishes the survey on the eve of its annual confab in Davos, which kicks off next week.
The environment has come up as a concern before. But this is the first year that it ranks No. 1. Last year, it was the No. 5, behind regional conflicts, weapons of mass destruction, pandemics, and water shortages.For the eight of the first nine years of the survey, financial markets ranked as the No. 1 concern of World Economic Forum members. This is a monied crowd, afterall.
This year, following climate change, the other risks that world leaders thought could have the most impact in 2016 were weapons of mass destruction, water shortages, large scale involuntary immigration, and a drop in oil prices. The survey also asked what were the most likely risks that could materialize in 2016. The No. 1 risk there was large-scale immigration. Extreme weather events ranked as No. 2.
The survey didn't say what world leaders propose to do about climate change. But it did seem to acknowledge that global leaders, more and more, think climate change is a growing cause of instability around the world.
“Climate change is exacerbating more risks than ever before in terms of water crises, food shortages, constrained economic growth, weaker societal cohesion and increased security risks," said Cecilia Reyes, chief risk officer of Zurich Insurance Group, in a statement provided by the World Economic Forum. "Meanwhile, geopolitical instability is exposing businesses to cancelled projects, revoked licenses, interrupted production, damaged assets, and restricted movement of funds across borders. These political conflicts are in turn making the challenge of climate change all the more insurmountable – reducing the potential for political co-operation, as well as diverting resource, innovation, and time away from climate change resilience and prevention."
Nonetheless, worries about climate change are unlikely to stop the parade of private jets that will ferry world leaders to World Economic Forum's global confab in Davos next week. Last year it was reported that 1,700 private jets were flown to Switzerland to take business leaders and heads of state to annual conference, though that number was at least partially debunked.