Can the super-rich tell us how to save the planet? Gen Z certainly think so
(The Guardian, 21 Jan 2024) Critics on both the right and left dislike the Davos jet-set’s virtue signalling, but it does at times result in virtuous acts.
There’s just something about corporate chieftains meeting at a ski resort to save the world that seems to get people’s backs up.
It could be the jargon – among the buzzwords at last year’s Davos conference was “mattering”, which I’m afraid is a noun. Or it could be the confident attitude of some of the delegates. “It’s pretty extraordinary that we, a select group of human beings because of whatever touched us at some point in our lives, are able to sit in a room and come together and actually talk about saving the planet … it’s so, almost extraterrestrial, to think about,” the former US secretary of state John Kerry told the conference last year.
In any case, critics often struggle to buy the idea that climate change can be best solved by the owners of private jets, poverty by the beneficiaries of corporate tax loopholes, and gender equality by a gathering still dominated by men. In fact, the World Economic Forum – among its mission statements is “improving the state of the world” – has long been a byword for hypocrisy and empty virtue signalling: a place where the rich can flatter themselves they are making a difference. “I have a feeling,” the American author Anand Giridharadas has written, “that girls in Africa are tired of being empowered by men in Davos”.