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WEF: Climate dominates risks to world economy

By Hugh Wilson

World Economic Forum risk report pinpoints environment as most pressing risk to prosperity

Issues related to climate change are the top risks to the global economy in the next decade, according to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) latest Global Risk Report.

Environmental issues take the top five places in the list of economic risks in terms of likelihood, the first time that one area has dominated the report to this extent.

With bushfires currently raging across Australia and floods across Asia, respondents to the report put extreme weather events as the top risk in terms of likelihood. It was followed by the failure of climate mitigation policies, human-made disasters and environmental crime, and biodiversity loss leading to severely depleted resources.

Writing in the report, WEF president Børge Brende, said: “On the environment, we note with grave concern the consequences of continued environmental degradation, including the record pace of species decline...

“But despite the need to be more ambitious when it comes to climate action, the UN has warned that countries have veered off course when it comes to meeting their commitments under the Paris Agreement on climate change.”

The report was produced ahead of the WEF’s annual meeting in Davos next week, which will be attended by some of the world’s most powerful business people. WEF has claimed the event will be carbon neutral.

John Drzik, chairman of Marsh & McLennan Insights, which helped produce the report, said: “This year’s report highlights important threads across the global risk landscape: intensifying confrontations, both between and within countries, as well as a heightened sense of urgency and emergency around some critical global problems.”

As well as climate change, risks to the global economy identified by the report include unravelling social cohesion, trade barriers and economic confrontations, digital inequality and creaking public health systems.

FURTHER READING: World must double investment in renewable energy to meet climate target

FURTHER READING: Climate change will threaten banks’ profitability

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