The economic and political consequences emanating from the coronavirus pandemic could be the source of a number of future crises in the next few years, as it widens longstanding health, economic and digital disparities, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).
In its latest Global Risks Report 2021, published ahead of the annual Davos summit next week, the results of the WEF’s annual risk survey showed infectious diseases, unsurprisingly, remained the most critical short-term risk over the next two years, alongside risks from extreme weather.
However, it warned there are a number of potential future crises that could unfold over the next five years, including burst asset bubbles or debt crises in large economies, and severe commodity shocks as supply and demand are affected on a global scale.
Over the longer term, it warned financial, digital and reputational pressures on companies and their workforces may lead to social fragmentation for individual countries and an increasingly fragile geopolitical outlook that could hinder the global recovery.
Saadia Zahidi, managing director at the WEF, said: “In 2020, the risk of a global pandemic became reality. We know how difficult it is for governments, business and other stakeholders to address such long-term risks, but the lesson here is for all of us to recognise that ignoring them doesn’t make them less likely to happen. As governments, businesses and societies begin to emerge from the pandemic, they must now urgently shape new economic and social systems that improve our collective resilience and capacity to respond to shocks while reducing inequality, improving health and protecting the planet.”
Audi is the latest car firm to reduce production of its cars and tofurlough workers, amid a global shortage of electronic chips.
In recent weeks, Audi’s parent company Volkswagen reveal edit would make 100,000 fewer cars in the first quarter, while Nissan, Honda, Daimler, Renault and General Motors are also among those to have reported production issues.
A lack of demand for cars for the majority of 2020 led to reduced orders of the computer chips, but the last few months of the year saw increased optimism and greater demand. However, the timing coincided with a surge from the consumer electronics sector as new consoles and products were released ahead of Christmas, causing delays in the supply chain, which could take up to six months to recover.
The delay has led chipmakers such as the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), which saw
its fourth quarter revenue increase 14% year-on-year thanks to demand from consumer electronics, to make mitigating the auto chip shortage “a top priority”.
French energy company Total moved closer to its goal of 40% of its sales coming from renewable sources by 2050 with a minority stake in Adani Green Energy Limited (AGEL), the top global solar power developer.
It is the latest step in the strategic alliance between Total and AGEL’s parent firm Adani Group, which already includes investments in LNG (liquified natural gas) terminals, gas utility business and renewable assets across India.
The deal will see Total invest $2.5bn for a 50% stake in a portfolio of operating solar assets owned by AGEL, as well as a 20% minority stake in the company itself and a seat on the board of directors.
Patrick Pouyanné, chairman and CEO of Total, said: “Our entry into AGEL is a major milestone in our strategy in the renewable energy business in India put in place by both parties. Given the size of the market, India is the right place to put into action our energy transition strategy based on two pillars: renewables and natural gas.”