By JAMEY KEATEN – Associated Press
DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday voiced his hopes for global cooperation on climate change, hunger and war, as dozens of climate activists protested in the Swiss city of Davos as a meeting of global elites ended with many words but little concrete action to resolve the most pressing crises of the world.
The German leader intensified his criticism of Moscow’s military attack on Ukraine during a speech on the final day of the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering. He said Russian President Vladimir Putin “wants to return to a world order in which the strongest dictates what is right, in which freedom, sovereignty and self-determination are not”.
Expressing hope that countries are working together on common crises, Scholz said the world today is no longer bipolar as it was during the Cold War era – when the United States and the Soviet Union dominated geopolitics.
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“If some want to take us back to the past of nationalism, imperialism and war, our answer is ‘not with us’. We stand for the future,” he said during the final major speech at this week’s Davos event. “When we realize that our world is becoming multipolar, this should prompt us to even more multilateralism, to even more international cooperation.
As he spoke, dozens of young people demonstrated across the city, with banners reading “Cut the (BS)!” and “There Is No Planet B” – adding a coda of condemnation to the gathering of elites in Davos that is often derided for being more about talk, business and relationship building than action. Forum organizers reject such claims, insisting they want to improve the state of the world by attracting decision makers.
The rally in the Swiss Alps – suspended twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic – has been overshadowed by the war in Ukraine, rising food and fuel prices, and signs that governments are not doing enough to fight global warming. This dampened many moods in the face of the spirit of dynamism of many innovators and entrepreneurs present at the event.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and others made the trip or joined via video link to rally support for their country’s grueling and uncertain campaign to oust Russian forces.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s campaign has drawn international scorn and unsettled his allies, and as a result Russian business and government envoys who have been fixtures in Davos since the end of the Soviet Union have not been invited this year .
Scholz reiterated his belief that Putin will not win the war, saying the Russian leader “has already failed to achieve all of his strategic goals.” He noted that “a capture of all of Ukraine by Russia seems further away today than it was at the start of the war.”
Kuleba expressed little hope that the war could come to a negotiated end, or even a pause, anytime soon.
“The moment Russia agrees to a ceasefire will be the moment it is on the verge of losing the war,” he told reporters on Wednesday evening. “They (the Russians) will agree to a ceasefire for one purpose: to avoid losing the war. Until then, this war will continue.
Kuleba lobbied for Western powers supply arms to Ukraine as multiple rocket launcher systems and pointed to a “saga” over obtaining Gepard tanks from Germany, among other things his government has discussed with Berlin.
“We clearly understand that Germany will not be a country that leads the process of supplying Ukraine with the heavy weapons that we need,” Kuleba said. “Let’s be clear: if we don’t get heavy weapons, we get killed.”
The result of Ukraine’s efforts is to rally countries around a nascent democracy with ambition to join the European Union – the club of the free world and the free market – in the face of an onslaught from a Russian regime that suppresses dissent and centralizes power in one man: Putin.
Also on many minds in Davos was the Texas school shooting. More broadly, the fight against global warming, a food crisisand cyberattacks by hackers from Russia and elsewhere have revealed how progressive leaders in civil society, business and government have struggled to deal with simultaneous crises.
Many have spoken of the need to find solutions to the blockade of the Ukrainian port s, preventing sound wheat critical stocksbarley and sunflower oil to go into the world and threat of food insecurity in countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The European Union and the United States have accused Russia of using food as a weapon and say that there have been discussions about the opening of secure maritime corridors.
Russian officials blame Western sanctions or Ukrainian mines at sea.
“This food crisis is real and we need to find solutions,” World Trade Organization Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told a trade panel on Wednesday.
Davos sparked ideas from innovators and leaders, but translating them into action could take time, if at all. The meeting is above all a talkfest, and concrete and publicized achievements and announcements have been few this year.
Former US Vice President Al Gore, a leading climate change advocate, briefly denounced failed gun control efforts in the US before trumpeting a new system to monitor greenhouse gas emissions satellite greenhouse. This will increase needed scrutiny and transparency over the burning of carbon and other planet-warming gases by companies, he said.
Gore, who shared a Nobel Peace Prize with the UN’s top body on climate science for their work on climate change, pointed to an initiative known as Climate Trace which combines more than 300 satellites with machine learning to create algorithms and focus on emission hotspots around the world. . Results are scheduled to be released in October for the top 500 emission sources.
“We are about to enter an era of radical transparency,” he said.
AP journalists Peter Prengaman and Kelvin Chan in Davos and Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin contributed.
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