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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Graeme Wearden

Davos day three: Keir Starmer says Rishi Sunak shouldn’t have missed WEF – as it happened

Closing post

Time to wrap up – here are our main stories from Davos today:

Back tomorrow….. GW

Christine Lagarde, President, European Central Bank, speakng in Davos today
Christine Lagarde, President, European Central Bank, speakng in Davos today Photograph: Laurent Gilliéron/EPA

Earlier today in Davos, the president of the European Central Bank pledged to “stay the course” in the fight against inflation.

Christine Lagarde told a panel discussion here at WEF that the ECB will continue raising interest rates and leave them in restrictive territory for as long as it takes to bring down inflation to its 2% target.

Lagarde insisted:

“We shall stay the course until such a time when we have moved into restrictive territory for long enough so that we can return inflation to 2% in a timely manner.

Roubini: Davos elites need to wake up to ‘megathreats’ the world is facing

A host of interconnected “megathreats” is imperilling our future, and those in Davos need to wake up to them, warns economist Nouriel Roubini.

He writes:

While some of these have been long in the making, others are new. The stubbornly low inflation of the pre-pandemic period has given way to today’s excessively high inflation. Secular stagnation – perpetually low growth owing to weak aggregate demand – has evolved into stagflation, as negative aggregate supply shocks have combined with the effects of loose monetary and fiscal policies.

Where once interest rates were too low – or even negative – they have now been rising fast, driving up borrowing costs and creating the risk of cascading debt crises. The age of hyper-globalisation, free trade, offshoring, and just-in-time supply chains has yielded to a new era of deglobalisation, protectionism, reshoring (or “friend-shoring”), secure trade and “just-in-case” supply-chain redundancies.

We started this morning with Boris Johnson’s call for more military help for Ukraine.

And now, Netherlands defence minister Kajsa Ollongren has said her country is finalising plans to provide Patriot air defence systems to Ukraine with Germany and the United States and will announce further military support to Kyiv on Friday.

Ollongren told Reuters in an interview here that:

“What they need right now in this phase of the war is weapons to push the Russians back from the invaded parts of the country and more air defence because these attacks are still going on,”

Ollongren said she was confident a solution would be found for supplying modern battle tanks to Ukraine, but that the Netherlands, which leases Leopard 2 tanks from Germany, would need a green light from Berlin before deciding whether to contribute.

Moldova has requested air defence systems from its allies as it looks to strengthen its capabilities as the war in neighbouring Ukraine continues.

Russian efforts to destabilise the country have so far failed, its president said today.

“We have requested air surveillance and defence systems,” Maia Sandu told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“We understand that Ukraine is a priority and should receive that but we (also) hope to receive some.”


Cop 28: Sultan Al Jaber 'uniquely qualified' to deliver success

A COP 28 spokesperson has responded to the criticism from climate activists including Greta Thunberg today over the appointment of Sultan Al Jaber, the CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), as president of the UN climate conference this year.

The COP 28 spokesperson tells us:

Dr Sultan is an energy expert and founder of one of the world’s leading rewnewable energy companies, a senior business leader, a government minister and a climate diplomat with over 20 years of experience of taking climate action,

He is uniquely qualified to deliver a succesful COP 28.

Al Jaber founded renewable energy company Masdar, and has been a regular attendee at COPs, including the landmark Paris event.

He is “determined to make COP 28 a COP for all, and make truly transformational progress,” the COP spokesperson pledges, adding that for that progress “it is critical that all stakeholders are at the table”.

Here’s CNBC’s take on Keir Starmer’s appearance at Davos:

U.K. opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer on Thursday hit out at Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for opting not to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

On a CNBC-moderated panel in Davos, Starmer said he had been meeting with business leaders and policymakers to promote the idea of a Clean Power Alliance should Labour win the next general election in 2024.

The international body, which Starmer characterized as an “inverse OPEC,” would seek to address the joint economic challenges of climate change, renewable energy job creation and household energy costs.

“I think our prime minister should have showed up — I absolutely do. One of the things that has been impressed on me since I’ve been here is the absence of the United Kingdom,” Starmer told the panel.

“That’s why I think it’s really important that I’m here and that our Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves is here, as a statement of intent that should there be a change of government, and I hope there will be, the United Kingdom will play its part on the global stage in a way I think it probably hasn’t in recent years.”

Britain’s Labour leader Starmer and the party’s financial chief Reeves walking to a meeting during the World Economic Forum in Davos today.
Britain’s Labour leader Keir Starmer and the party’s shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves walking to a meeting during the World Economic Forum in Davos today. Photograph: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters


Investors can tell the difference between unfunded tax cuts, and borrowing to invest in long-term growth and to kickstart the economy, Rachel Reeves tells Davos.

But what happened in September (after the mini-budget rocked the markets) does make it harder to make the case for borrowing to invest in growth, Reeves adds.

Rachel Reeves then explains that she and Keir Starmer are here in Davos to signal that the UK economy will be open for business again if Labour win the next election, and turn around the poor economic performance of the last decade.

That means sorting out mess of the Brexit deal, which has seen exports fall and jobs move abroad, she says.

It also means a green energy transition plan, where Reeves says the UK is falling behind the US (with its IRA legislation) and now Europe as well in supporting businesses of the future.

Someone has to be an anbassador for Britain, and the PM and chancellor aren’t here, Reeves points out.

Labour hope to form next government, so it’s important that we’re here to talk to businesses and investors, she adds.


Rachel Reeves explains how mini-budget rocked markets

Across the conference centre here in Davos, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves is appearing on a panel asking if the world is in a debt spiral.

Reeves is asked about the UK bond market turmoil last autumn after the mini-budget, when borrowing costs surged.

Q: In general, have we reached a turning point between investment and goverment?

Reeves points out that borrowing costs are going up globally. But she doesn’t agree that ‘bond vigilantes’ should be blamed for the turbulence in the UK gilt market.

It’s because the government announced £40bn of tax cuts, without a plan to pay for it, and then went on TV and said there’s more to come, Reeves points out. That also sent the pound down to an alltime low.

She explains to Davos delegates how the turmoil created the LDI pension crisis, and forced the Bank of England to step in with liquidity to protect pension funds.

Reeves adds that it wasn’t just the tax cuts that spooked the markets; the run-up to the mini-budget was another factor, and the undermining of institutions such as the Bank of England during the Conservative leadership race.

Other countries can learn lessons from the UK’s situation, Reeves explains:

Economic institutions are incredibly important. Uundermining institutions that give investors confidence is extremely dangerous.

Sacking the top civil servant in the Treasury (Tom Scholar) and not taking a forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility for the mini-budget gave investors the idea that the government had something to hide, Reeves explains.

Economics professor Ken Rogoff is there too – he speaks first, reminding delegates of the debt crisis in some emerging markets.

For everyone else, “the 300 trillion question is what happens to interest rates”. Low interest rates in recent years have led to the increase in debts, he says.

Rogoff predicts we are entering a world where inflation-adgusted interest rates will be higher in the next decade than they were.

Rogoff says it takes a few different factors to cause a debt spiral – for emerging market economies, it could be a trio of a rise in interest rates, a recession and a jump in commodity costs.

And how would Japan cope with higher interest rates, he asks, something that it hasn’t faced in years.

UK CEO: We've fallen off global stage without Sunak here at WEF

Business secretary Grant Shapps insisted the government has a plan for growth at a gathering of British business leaders organised by the CBI today, our business editor John Collingridge reports.

Over a lunch of grilled vegetables and roasted chicken breast in the Hotel Belvedere Grindelwald, overlooking the Swiss Alps, Shapps said the government must “think bigger, take strategic risks”.

The former transport secretary used the speech to launch a plan called ‘Scale-up Britain’, which aims to grow promising companies into global challengers.

He said:

“What I want to create is a Silicon Valley with a British edge,”

He also said the government would launch a “Scale-up Summit” to bring together tech and finance figures “who have worked around the world, from California to Tallin and who can help us replicate their success in the UK, from Catford to Teesside.”

Shapps also admitted Brexit has “brought some significant challenges for business” but said “I can see how we can reap the benefits”.

But business leaders at the lunch were not universally convinced - nor by the fact that Shapps was deputising for the prime minister Rishi Sunak.

“You might not like coming to Davos but it’s part of the job of the prime minister,” said one. “We’ve fallen off the global stage.”

That chimes with Keir Starmer’s warning to Davod delegates this afternoon that Sunak should be here, during the Labour leader’s appearance in the WEF Congress hall.

The biggest challenge in the energy crisis, Keir Starmer says, is that the world has moved from climate change denial into climate change delay.

“We risk sliding backwards”, not moving forward, because of Putin and everything that happened in 2022. That’s why global leadership is needed (as the Labour leader said earlier).

Starmer says this is his first Davos – and he’s been told there’s always ‘a mood’ at the World Economic Forum.

This one feels balanced, Starmer says; people know what needs to be done.

Starmer’s sense, with an eye on the next UK election, is to “dare to hope”, he explains.

The session has now wrapped up.

Q: Would the UK be in its current economic hole without Brexit, Keir Starmer is asked here at Davos.

Starmer replies that the UK’s “Achilles heel” for the last 13 years has been the failure to grow the economy.

Brexit made that harder, which is why we’ve made the case for a closer relationship with EU, he tells Davos.

But ultimately, the UK has not had a strategic plan in 10 years, he says – without that you struggle to attract foreign investment.

Starmer reminds Davos delegates of the political chaos in Britain in the last year:

We burned through 3 prime ministers, four chancellors and four budgets in the last 12 months,

Those are not the conditions for stability.

A new Labour government would restore trust in institutions such as the Office for Budget Responsibility (which was sidelined by former chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng before his disastrous mini-budget last September).

Starmer reminds WEF of the UK’s strengths, saying it has brilliant innovation, brililiant universities, and all the attributes to attract investment – just not the conditions at present.

Starmer concudes by saying:

The fact our PM is not here is evidence of the drift. We intend to reverse that.

Back on energy, Keir Starmer tells Davos delegates here in the congress hall that renewables are currently 9 times cheaper than oil and gas in the UK.

It makes economic sense to press forwards.

Starmer says the state can take an active role – he hears regularly from businesses that they could go faster on renewables, but are slowed by beaurocracy and planning.

It’s in all of our interests to have energy security, so Putin cannot weaponise energy around the world, Starmer says.

Q: Have you ruled out nationalisation?

Starmer says Labour looked at the cost – and decided it made more sense to use money to drive down bills, rathe than to pay shareholders.

Under Labour, an active state would create a vehicle, Great British Energy (a publicly owned energy company run on clean UK power).

Starmer says he is proposing a “very pragmatic approach to a very serious cost of living crisis”.

Mark Rutte, Dutch prime minister, says he agrees with Keir Starmer that the state can and should play an active role in the energy crisis, speaking alongside the Labour leader in the Davos hall.

Starmer: PM Sunak should be in Davos

Keir Starmer is asked whether Rishi Sunak should have attended Davos this week (business secretary Grant Shapps and trade secretary Kemi Badenoch are attending, instead).

Yes, Starmer replies, “I think our prime minister should have shown up at Davos”.

Starmer says his presence here, along with shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, is a statement of intent of the role that Britain will play on the world stage if (as he hopes) there is a change of government.

Starmer says the ‘absence of the UK’ has been pressed on him during his meeting in Davos.

The PM should have been here, having the meetings I’ve been having, Starmer says.

Here’s a video clip of Greta Thunberg speaking this morning:

Starmer tells Davos: 'Inverse Opec' could drive down renewable energy prices

Inside the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting, Labour leader Keir Starmer has taken a seat in the huge Congress hall at Davos, for a discussion on the global energy crisis.

Q: According to the polls, you could be the next prime minister of the United Kingdom. What is the plan?

Starmer says the UK has taken a short-term approach to the energy crisis, capping bills and funding it by a windfall tax

That is a short-term, sticking plaster solution, Starmer explains.

Instead, the UK needs a strategy for renewables, he says. That would tackle the challenge of high bills, create energy security so we aren’t exposed to Putin, and also create the next generation of jobs that will be created as we move towards renewabless.

That requires all countries, including my own, to show global leadership, Starmer continues, citing moves in the US and Europe.

He says Labour presented its green prosperity plan at the last party conference, calling it ‘ambitious’.

Davos, Starmer explains, is an opportunity to speak to CEOs and investors who could partner with a future Labour government on its green energy plan.

Starmer suggests the countries who are in the lead in moving to green power and net-zero, could create a “clean power alliance” in which they would share expertise.

Starmer says this “inverse Opec” could drive prices down.

“If we could get that alliance working together”, that would be a good move in the right direction, the Labour leader says.

Q: Will you allow new investment in oil and gas?

There needs to be a transition, Starmer replies, and oil and gas have a role to play in that. But not through new fields in the North Sea, as the UK needs to move towards net zero and get off the international reliance of oil and gas.

Are there any reasons for optimism in the climate crisis, the activist are asked at today’s meeting.

Greta Thunberg replies “the people standing up, raising their voices against against all that is happening” gives her optimism.

Her fellow activists agree.

Luisa Neubauer hopes that the term ‘activist’ won’t need to exist at some point in the future, when people understand that standing up for their rights and for the right to live and for their livelihoods shouldn’t be an act of activism.

IEA's Birol: IRA is 'very transformative move'

Energy industry chief Fatih Birol doesn’t share Grant Shapps’ concerns that the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is ‘dangerous’ (see earlier post).

Asked about the IRA, Birol says it is a “very transformative move from the United States”, which will provide about $400bn of support to the green energy transition. It will help solar, wind, electric cars and clean hydrogen, Birol says.

Birol hopes that other countries will respond, to help reach clean energy goals.

Birol: Risky to fund new fossil fuel projects

IEA chief Fatih Birol has warned that it may not make sense for banks to fund new fossil fuel projects.

Asked about the banks who fund new oil and gas generation, despite their net zero pledges, Birol replies that it’s ‘their money’, not the IEA’s, but he sees three risks.

The first is that if you decide today to build a new oil field, the first oil will reach the markets in six or seven years. It’s not immediate.

Second, he isn’t sure that global oil demand will still be increasing in seven years time, because the electric cars are growing “very strongly” which will hit demand for fuel.

Thirdly, is a climate risk.

So there is a business risk, and the climate crisis to bear in mind, he adds.

Activists: Giving COP 28 presidency to fossil fuel CEO is ridiculous

The climate activists at today’s event in Davos criticised the UAE’s decision to select the head of its state owned oil company to lead the UN’s COP 28 climate talks.

Sultan al-Jaber, CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Co, will preside over the next round of global climate talks in Dubai, the UAE announced earlier this month.

Luisa Neubauer, from Germany, says it is “ridiculous”, but not a new development, as lobbiests flooded the space at the last COP in Egypt.

Helena Gualinga, from Ecuador, says it sends a message that the climate issue isn’t being taken seriously.

Gualinga warns:

I just think it’s it sends a message also where we’re headed right now, if we’re putting the heads of fossil fuel companies to lead climate negotiations.

Greta Thunberg says that lobbyists have been influencing these conferences “since, basically, forever”.

Thunberg adds:

This just puts a very clear face to it.

It’s completely ridiculous.

In the Q&A session in the climate debate, Greta Thunberg is asked whether she thinks developing countries should be allowed to use fossil fuels.

Thunberg replies that the term is misleading – they’re not underdeveloped, she says, they’re overexploited.

She explains that the climate crisis boils down to justice and is a cumulative crisis, because the emissions causing climate change remain in the atmosphere for so long,

Thunberg said:

So who am I to say that I’ve had these privileges but now, others that haven’t been able to do so shouldn’t because we are facing a crisis.

The roots of the crisis is the mindset that some people are worse than others, Thunberg says. We seem to be sacrificing people for this, she warns, and that give the Western world an even bigger responsibility, as equity must be at the heart of climate action.

IEA chief Fatih Birol (left) with climate activists Luisa Neubauer from Germany, Helena Gualinga from Ecuador, Vanessa Nakate from Uganda and Greta Thunberg from Sweden
IEA chief Fatih Birol (left) with climate activists Luisa Neubauer from Germany, Helena Gualinga from Ecuador, Vanessa Nakate from Uganda and Greta Thunberg from Sweden (from left to right) Photograph: Graeme Wearden

Activists draw up cease and desist notice for fossil fuel CEOs

The four activists here in Davos have drawn up a Cease And Desist notice to fossil fuel CEOs.

It demands that they immediately stop opening any new oil, gas or coal extraction. sites

The notice says that that Big Oil:

  • knew for decades that fossil fuels cause catastrophic climate change

  • misled the public about the basic climate science and risks

  • deceived politicians with disinformation, sowing doubt and causing delay.

They must end these activities now, as they violate the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, “your duty of care”, and the rights of indigenous people.

If they fail to act immediately, citizens around the world may take legal action.

It is signed by the four activists here: Vanessa Nakate, Greta Thunberg, Helena Gualinga, and Luisa Neubauer.

IEA's Birol: Political will to tackle climate crisis is lacking

IEA chief Fatih Birol, sat alongside the four climate activists, says his appearance at today’s debate is a sign of the message he wants to give the world.

He thanks the activists for their work, and explains that the energy industry is responsible for 80% of the emissions causing climate change.

Unless we transform the energy sector, making it clean and secure, we cannot hit out climate targets, Birol explains, warning that we must keep temperature increase to 1.5%

This means we must move to clean energy, and “the magic word is investment”.

There is enough capital, Birol insists, but what is missing is the political will.

We have enough sun, enough wind, and the electric car sector is growing, he points out.

But “unfortunately”, the transition is not happening at the pace we need to see, particulaly in the developing world, Birol adds.

[Reminder, back in May 2021 the IEA warned that exploitation and development of new oil and gas fields needed to stop that year, with no new coal-fired power stations built, if the world is to stay within safe limits of global heating and meet the goal of net zero emissions by 2050].

Luisa Neubauer, from Germany, warns that the fossil fuel era will not end as long the fossil fuel industry governs the rules.

Neubauer reminds the audience that German chancellor Olaf Scholz said in his special address to WEF yesterday that the future beyonds to renewables.

But, Neubauer says, Scholz missed out that the future does not belong to fossil fuels

96% of oil and gas industry intend to expand, she warns, even though data shows there the industry cannot expand if the world is to control global warming.

The message is clear, Neubauer warns: the future will not belong to the fossil fuel industry, but they will not lead into that future themselves.

Helena Gualinga, from Ecuador, explains that she comes from an indigenous community in the Amazon rainforest.

For decades, her community have seen their forest cut down in the name of development.

The same industry that caused the climate crisis is destroying our territories, Gualinga explains.

It is “competely insane” we are allowing it, Gualinga tells the debate here on the outside of the WEF congress centre.

There are people in Davos who are fuelling it, through investing in the fossil fuel industry, she says.

This is criminal behaviour, and it should be judged as such as well.

Vanessa Nakate, climate activise from Uganda, explains that the the climate crisis is evident in the areas which are most impacted by it.

In those places, people are “stretching their livelihoods, clinging to their lives” and trying to make it for another week, another day, hour and minute.

Nakate says:

The climate crisis goes beyond statistics. It is about people.

There is a disconnection between what is being discussed, and what is happening on the ground, she tells today’s debate.

Nakate then tells a very moving story about a child she met in a hospital, where cases of severe acute malnutrician are referred. A few hours later, she learned the child had died.

This was a preventable death, a preventable crisis, Nakate insists, expressing her frustration that “our leaders are playing games,”

Why is it so hard for people to understand the urgency of what is happening, she asks.

Thunberg: Absurd that we listen to those causing climate crisis

Greta Thunberg speaks first, saying it is “absurd” that in Davos we are listening to the people who are mainly causing the climate crisis, rather than those on the frontline.

We seem to rely on these people to resolve our problems, Thunberg says, even though they have shown they are prioritising short term greed and corporate greed.

We are being bombarded by messages by these people, those responsible for the destruction of the planet, she explains.

Instead, Thunberg says, we should listen to those actually affected by the climate crisis, those on the frontline.


Key event

Just outside the World Economic Forum Congress centre, activists from the Fridays For Future movement are holding a debate with the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency.

The panellists are:

● Greta Thunberg, Sweden

● Helena Gualinga, Ecuador

● Vanessa Nakate, Uganda

● Luisa Neubauer, Germany

● Fatih Birol, International Energy Agency

They plan to discuss..

…whether governments and businesses are responding adequately to the climate crisis, the state of the clean energy transition, widespread calls to end new investments in fossil fuels, and what needs to be done to limit global warming to 1.5C.

The head of the International Energy Agency has warned that energy markets could be tighter in 2023.

Fatih Birol added that he hoped prices would not rise further in order to protect energy-importing developing countries facing gloomy economic outlooks.

In an interview with the Reuters Global Markets Forum in Davos, Birol cautioned:

“I wouldn’t be too relaxed about the markets and 2023 may well be a year where we see tighter markets than some colleagues may think.”

Shapps warns the IRA is 'dangerous'

Britain’s business secretary, Grant Shapps, has warned that President Joe Biden’s multi-billion dollar green subsidy program is “dangerous”.

Speaking on a panel at Davos, Shapps expressed concern about the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) which provides huge subsidies and tax credits to companies investing in electric vehicles and renewable energy technologies.

Shapps told delegates:

We are great global traders and we want the world to be as open as possible. We have to be careful we don’t slip into protectionism.

The IRA, at the edges, is dangerous because it could lead to a slide towards protectionism.

It is protectionism, whether it is intentional protectionism or not is the debate, Shapps explained.

WTO 'very concerned' about Ukraine war's impact on food supplies

Director-General of the World Trade Organisation Ngozi Okonjo smiles during a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Director-General of the World Trade Organisation Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala during a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum (WEF). Photograph: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

The World Trade Organisation remains “very concerned” about the impact the war in Ukraine is having on global food supplies, its director general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has said.

Speaking to the Guardian in Davos, the head of the WTO said member states had reduced the number of export restrictions on food since the period immediately after the start of the war, so they at least weren’t making a bad situation worse.

“But as long as the war continues I am still very worried.”

Okonjo-Iweala said only 75% of Ukraine’s winter crop had been planted and there were concerns about the spring planting season as well. “I am also worried whether we can keep the Black Sea corridors open. So far so good, but I won’t be 100% confident as long as the uncertainty continues.”

The WTO was created in the 1990s - the heyday of globalisation - and its DG warned there would be huge costs from fragmentation into rival blocks,

“Geo-politcal tensions are real and becoming more tense by the minute”, she said.

“It doesn’t make it easy to reach agreement. We live it daily.”

Okonjo-Iweala said WTO simulations showed that the global economy would be 5% smaller if the world divided into two rival blocks, with emerging economies suffering a 12% hit.

But she remained convinced the WTO had a future. Work was underway to find an agreement that would allow the WTO’s appeal body to resume work and she said there had been significant progress on liberalising trade at last year’s ministerial meeting.

“The reputation for a long time is that the WTO is struggling and there was some truth to that. But I don’t accept failure and I am a very impatient person.”

The still unfinished Doha round of WTO trade liberalisation talks began in 2001, something that irks its DG. “It shouldn’t be taking 20 years to come to an agreement”, Okonjo-Iweala said.

Writing in the Guardian today, historian Timothy Garton Ash argues that Germany has a unique historical responsibility to help defend a free and sovereign Ukraine.

He argues that chancellor Olaf Scholz should show boldness by allowing Germany’s Leopard 2 tanks to be sent to Ukraine – an issue Scholz swerved during his keynote speech to the World Economic Forum yesterday afternoon.

As Garton Ash explains:

The exact mix of military means needed by Ukraine is a matter for the experts. It includes more air defence, reconnaissance systems, ammunition and communications equipment as well as armoured vehicles.

But any large-scale Ukrainian counteroffensive will now require modern battle tanks. Leopard 2 is the best suited and most widely available such tank, with – so successful are German arms exports – more than 2,000 of them held by 12 other European armies besides the Bundeswehr.

Here’s the piece:

Boris Johnson at a breakfast for Ukraine
Boris Johnson at today’s breakfast for Ukraine Photograph: John Collingridge

The breakfast wraps up with some words from Borys Gudziak, Metropolitan Archbishop of Philadelphia for Ukrainian Catholics in the United States.

He tells us that he hopes the reconstruction of Ukraine can show that capitalism is compassionate, in a nudge to the businesses such as Blackrock who plan to be part of the reconstruction.

Gudziak hopes a new Ukrainian capitalism can show that the free market has at its heart God-given human solidarity, subsidiarity, and the common good.

Boris Johnson speaks again at the Ukraine breakfast, saying the US have exceeded expectations, and are way out in front in terms of military and financial support for Ukraine.

Johnson says there is a paradox that we are doing less to preserve freedom than we did in Iraq or Kosovo, even though there is no-one here today who doesn’t think Ukraine is 100% in the right

(if today’s breakfast took place during those earlier conflicts, there would be a respectable opinion on the otherside, Johnsons suggests.)

The former PM adds that he doesn’t think anyone in the room disagrees that Ukraine is 100% in the right and that the issue is “completely black and white, right and wrong, good and evil.”

If we’re worried about expense, it’ll be more expensive the longer it goes on, Johnson points out.

Kerry: the stakes could not be higher

John Kerry, the US special presidential envoy for climate, joins the panel and thanks Boris Johnson for mobilising the English language in support of Ukraine.

Kerry tells the audience he was a child of World War 2, and remembers seeing war damage when he visited Europe in the late 1940s. Growing up in Berlin, he played in bunkers with his friends (“probably ill-advised”, he admits).

Later in life, Kerry says he fought in a war [Vietnam] which based on lies, on distortion and paranoia, not the war for freedom it was presented at.

No-one in Ukraine who has picked up a weapon has put their lives at risk for a mistake, Kerry insists.

Kerry says we must learn the lessons of Anschluss, of Munich, of appeasement, and the subjugation of the Iron Curtain.

Putin has not learned those lessons, and is engages in a personal initiative, against the facts, against legitimacy and the rule of law, adding:

“I believe the stakes here could not be higher.”

Putin has made a colossal mistake, by trying to go back to the kind of world that existed in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, Kerry adds.

Kerry challenges delegates at the World Economic Forum to do more to help Ukraine,

We should never come to Davos again and have a meeting if we are not prepared to fight for the principles that are at stake in Ukraine, Kerry insists.


Johnson: Putin should get the puck out of Ukraine

Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s deputy Prime Minister and finance minister, is also here at the Ukraine breakfast.

She says we should imagine how the world would look if the Ukranians weren’t so terrific, and if there was a Putin puppet goverment in Kiev right now. How would Poland, or the Baltic states, be feeling in that scenario, she asks.

Freeland says she’s in awe of president Zelenskiy, adding that every single person in Ukraine is standing up, and being a leader themselves.

Ukrainian soldiers are volunteering, choosing their own path. They know why they are there, Freeland explains, and that’s why Ukraine is going to win.

That’s why we should help them as much as we can. Let’s help end this quickly.

Freeland goes for an ice hockey metaphor, quoting Wayne Gretzky’s line about skating to where the puck is going to be, not where it is.

“This puck is going to Ukrainian victory,” Freeland declares.

“So let’s skate there. Let’s make it happen as quickly as possible.”

Boris Johnson chips in, with a pun about how Putin must “get the puck out of Ukraine”, provoking some mirth in the audience.


On the reconstruction of Ukraine, BlackRock’s CEO Larry Fink predicts that those who believe in a capitalist system will be “flooding Ukraine with capital” .

He suggests the reconstruction bill could be $750bn, which would be double the World Bank’s estimate last summer.

Fink says he believes it is possible to make a “fair and just return” on behalf of pension funds and retirees, through funding the reconstruction.

He explains that he told president Zelenskiy that Ukraine can be a beacon to the world for the power of capitalism, showing that oligarchs are not part of the future, and that capitalism is the most powerful economic engine in the world.

Zelenskiy apparently told him to go further; that Ukraine must become a leader in new technologies and a leader in decarbonisation.



Mark Rutte, prime minister of the Netherlands, speaks next.

He says we have to stay united behind Ukraine, who he says will win… because it is crucial that they do so, and also because they are not alone.

Boris Johnson wraps up by telling the audience that we continually underestimated the willingness and ability of Ukrainians to fight and defend their homeland.

They’ve proved the world completely wrong, Johnson says.

Ukraine are “going to win”, and its supporters need to help them win “as fast as possible”.

Johnson concludes:

So I would say to everyone, focus on Ukraine, don’t focus on Putin.


Boris Johnson add that it’s not worth engaging in Kreminology.

It’s hard enough to tell what’s going on in UK politics, the former PM says wryly.

It’s not our job to worry about Putin’s career or what comes next, Johnson says.


“We need to focus on supporting Ukraine and giving Volodymyr Zelenskiy the tools he needs to finish the job”.

This wins warm applause from the audience.

Johnson: Putin will not use nuclear weapons

Boris Johnson is speaking at this morning’s Ukraine breakfast now, introduced as a “legendary figure” in Ukraine.

The former UK prime minister is asked what he thinks is going through Putin’s mind – is there an opportunity to negotiate?

Johnson says he is lost in admiration for president Zelenskiy, and the heroism of the Ukrainian people.

But, he warns, we can spend too much time obsessing about Putin, and worrying about escalating the conflict.

Johnson says he heard these concerns before he approved supply of shoulder-launched anti-tank weapons.

But, he says:

How can you escalate against a guy who is doing all out war against a civilian population?

Putin is not going to use nuclear weapons, Johnson insists, comparing Russia’s president to “the fat boy in Dickens who wants to make our flesh creep”.

Using nuclear weapons would create economic paralysis, Johnson points out. Plus, states who are giving him the benefit of the doubt woud turn massively against him – he cites India and China.

He’s not going to do it.

Zelenskiy on tanks: vaccine against Russian tyranny is available

This morning’s Ukraine breakfast is packed. President Zelenskiy is addressing the event first, by videolink.

Zelenskiy thanks the financial community all for the financial support Ukraine has received. Ukraine must move forward on the battlefield, he says.

He’s reiterating his call for Ukraine’s allies to move faster (yesterday he told Davos delegates that the world must speed up its response).

Putting more pressure on Berlin over its Leopard tanks, Zelenskiy says:

“The vaccine against Russian tyranny is available”

There’s a list of countries who have it, he points out.

“If you want to help us just do it.”


Boris Johnson receives "Citizen of Kyiv" medal in Davos.

Boris Johnson received an honorary “Citizen of Kyiv” medal from Mayor Vitali Klitschko last night, on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum annual meeting here in Davos.

Associated Press’s Jamey Keaten has the details:

Johnson has been hailed as a hero by many Ukrainians for his and Britain’s support for their country after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered forces to invade Ukraine nearly a year ago.

At the Ukraine House on Wednesday, Klitschko said Johnson is “one of us” before draping the medal around the former British leader’s neck.

Johnson said he’d received an invitation to visit Kyiv — a “beautiful, beautiful city” — from Klitschko and traveled there while Britain’s foreign minister.

“I realized then that if Putin was ever so mad as to invade Ukraine, that Ukrainians would fight and that they would win. And that is what is going to happen,” Johnson said to a cheering crowd.

Here’s a video clip of the ceremony:

Introduction: Johnson, Starmer, Reeves, Shapps, Badenoch and Thunberg in Davos

Good morning from Davos, where the third day of the World Economic Forum is underway.

The Brits are in town today, and so are the climate activists.

Boris Johnson is appearing at a breakfast briefing on Ukraine shortly, to discuss the most urgent issues facing Ukraine. He’s expected to be joined by (among others) Yulia Svyrydenko, 1st Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine, Blackrock CEO Larry Fink, Mark Rutte, the prime minister of the Netherlands, David Rubenstein of the Carlyle Group, and David Solomon, Chairman & CEO of Goldman Sachs.

UK PM Rishi Sunak is steering clear of Davod, though – business secretary Grant Shapps and trade secretary Kemi Badenoch are here instead.

Labour are also in attendance, with leader Keir Starmer and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves both appearing on panels today.

Starmer will tell global financial leaders that Britain “will be open for business” under a future Labour government.

They plan to promote Labour’s green prosperity plan to decarbonise the economy, boost energy security and ensure Britain leads in future green industries.

Ahead of the visit, Reeves said:

“With Labour in government, Britain will be open for business. We have the ambition and the practical ideas to have our country lead on the global stage again, especially in those green industries of the future that are so vital for our energy security.

“We will restore economic growth to the UK, improving living standards and creating jobs, and bring global investors back to drive our economy forwards – all built on the rock of economic stability and certainty.

“Labour will work in partnership with business to boost investment in the UK economy, to make sure the jobs of the future are in the UK, and to ensure the UK is a world leader in the climate transition.”

Shapps, who will speak at the traditional UK business leaders lunch today, is expected to outline a new plan to ‘scale up’ British businesses.

In a video clip released yesterday, the business secretary says:

“When I pack my luggage, I won’t just be taking a warm jacket. I’m going to be taking a vision for how we take this country and we scale up Britain.”

It’s minus 8 celsius this morning here, so Shapps will need that cosy jacket too.

Greta Thunberg is also here today, appearing at a meeting of activists from the Fridays For Future movement.

They’ve invited the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol, for a dialogue at the World Economic Forum.

Thunberg, Helena Gualinga from Ecuador, Vanessa Nakate from Uganda, Luisa Neubauer from Germany and Birol will discuss whether governments and businesses are responding adequately to the climate crisis.

The agenda

  • 7.30am Davos / 6.30am GMT: Breakfast briefing on Ukraine

  • 9am Davos / 8am GMT: A panel on The Future of Industrial Policy, with Grant Shapps

  • 9.30am Davos / 8.30am GMT A panel on Ransomware: To Pay or Not to Pay, including Catherine De Bolle, Executive Director of Europol & Christopher Wray, FBI director

  • 10.30am Davos / 9.30am GMT: A Conversation with Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft

  • 11:30am Davos / 10.30am GMT: a Special Address by Yoon Suk-yeol, President of the Republic of Korea

  • 2pm Davos / 1pm GMT: A panel sesssion on Repowering the World, including Keir Starmer

  • 3pm Davos / 2pm GMT: Is the World in a Debt Spiral? With José Antonio Ocampo, Minister of Finance and Public Credit of Colombia; Rachel Reeves, and Axel van Trotsenburg, Managing Director, Operations, World Bank

  • 5.15pm Davos / 4.15pm GMT: A press conference on the launch of the Coalition of Trade Ministers on Climate, with trade ministers from Ecuador, the European Union, Kenya, and New Zealand

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