Fighting global warming and protecting the environment dominated the discussions Friday at the World Economic Forum, a month after UN climate change talks ended without a binding deal on curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon, whose country is holding the next UN climate conference at the end of the year, was laying out his ideas in a session exploring what is next for climate talks.
Also, Microsoft founder Bill Gates was speaking about how to better target global development aid and was expected to announce new funding to bring vaccines to poor countries.
Yvo de Boer, head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said recent scandals have not discredited the view that global warming exists and must be countered.
“What’s happened, it’s unfortunate, it’s bad, it’s wrong, but I don’t think it has damaged the basic science,” he said. A UN report warning that Himalayan glaciers could be gone by 2035 turned out to be off by several decades because of a typo — the actual year was 2350 — and by stolen e-mails from the University of East Anglia’s climate science unit.
“Concluding that the Himalayan glaciers are going to disappear later is like being happy about the fact that the Titanic is sinking more slowly than we had originally feared, even though it’s still going to sink,” de Boer said.
A key part of the debate, however, is how any progress made won’t break the bank.
“Energy sector investments that were put on hold because of the crisis are beginning to be made again and I think people will take future climate change policy into account,” de Boer said.