Davos: Habek leaves skepticism and really tough questions for others

HIn green in front of the global business elite? Tachels is certainly the order of the day, as it was three years ago when Greta Thunberg made her first visit to the Swiss Alps. “The house is burning” accused Swedish climate activist participants in the World Economic Forum.

Robert Habeck chose a different path, experimenting with magic. “We have to think about the unimaginable,” the minister said at the beginning of the four-day conference. “Davos can be part of the solution.” Forum founder Klaus Schwab’s marketing experts couldn’t have put it better together.

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Habeck knows what the men and women of Davos want, he lacks not only thought and seriousness, but also a commitment to a universal division of labor and cooperation. “If we all just took care of ourselves, the consequences would be dire,” he says, referring to the food and energy crises. I immediately sent a warning that many participants here in Davos expressed publicly. Habeck also sees the risk of a global recession.

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Pressure gauge at a control station for a gas distribution network operator in Berlin

There are currently at least four interconnected crises: high inflation in many countries, the energy crisis, food shortages, and the climate crisis. “We cannot solve problems if we only focus on one of the problems.” A global recession will have serious implications, not only for climate protection but for global stability as a whole.

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In keeping with the spirit of Davos, Habeck said there should be no deviation from global markets. If each country only took care of itself, it would only exacerbate the crisis. “We have to keep the markets open,” the economy minister said.

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The World Economic Forum will gather the political and business elite in Davos, Switzerland, until Thursday

But the rules of the markets will have to change when times change, and a “new form of leadership” will also be needed. The vice chancellor from Berlin does not lack complacency. “All the estimates were wrong. We’ve made faster progress in using renewables than anyone would have thought.” Now anything can happen, he says happily.

Doubts and difficult questions are left to the other participants in the panel discussion where Habik appeared. Fatih Birol, for example, the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA), noted that it is by no means certain how classical energy companies use their full coffers.

The energy crisis is more serious than it was in the seventies

In the past five years, the oil and gas industry has generated an average of $1.5 trillion in profits, but this year it is likely to approach $4 trillion. It is by no means certain that the money will actually flow into clean energy rather than fossil energy.

Regarding the current energy crisis, Birol finds clear words. The world is going through a global energy crisis worse than it was in the 1970s. “Today we not only have an oil crisis, but also a gas crisis and a coal crisis.”

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The Emir of Qatar (left), Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, with Federal Chancellor Olaf Schultz (Social Democratic Party)

Amir visits Schultz

The reaction to this should not be just an expansion in the production of oil and shale gas available in the short term. You also have to face the crisis by saving energy. On the podium, he proposed not only a speed limit, but also car-free Sundays.

There were also warnings against the naive belief that in the short term you could get away with using gas and oil altogether. Vicki Hollub, president of the US group Occidence Petroleum, said that if people convince themselves that this will be the case, the urgently needed investments will not be made.

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“We cannot say to a country like Mozambique where 65 per cent of its citizens do not have access to electricity that they cannot use cheap gas now,” added Hardeep Singh Puri, India’s Minister of Oil and Gas. Puri did not mention that India had just expanded its oil imports from Russia significantly.

And even Robert Habeck doesn’t seem to find it particularly fascinating, at least when he debuted at Davos. He is even pushing for a joint EU oil embargo on Russia. He admitted that he is disappointed that the implementation of the oil embargo is taking so long. You can see here, he says, “the worst of Europe.”

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