Trump dismisses climate 'prophets of doom' at Davos as Greta looks on

Pablo Tucker
January 22, 2020

Thousands of kilometres from his Washington impeachment trial, U.S. President Donald Trump took centre stage in Davos, Switzerland, to tout the success of the American economy, while criticizing the U.S. Federal Reserve on Tuesday.

He did not directly name Thunberg as he preached it was time for optimism, not pessimism, in an address that praised his country's economic achievements.

Trump spent almost all of his approximately 30-minute speech talking about how the U.S. economy has performed under his leadership.

He said: "Under Ivanka's leadership, who's with us today, our pledge to America's workers has become a full-blown national movement, with over 400 companies committing to provide new jobs and training opportunities to already very close to 15 million American students and workers".

She warned that everyone needs to listen more to the science regarding climate change and the heating of the planet: "Without treating it as a real crisis we can not solve it". "I think we need to be able to create wealth in Quebec because we have some catching up to do, but we must make more effort to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions".

Thunberg echoed the speech she gave at the 2019 World Economic Forum, lamenting that little, if nothing, has changed in the past year.

Trump's announcement, however, was "only an ambiguous commitment" that was "a mild attempt to excuse or offset business as usual" for United States climate policy, Atlantic Council Global Energy Center Deputy Director for Climate and Advanced Energy David Livingston said.

Speaking once more shortly after Trump, Thunberg mentioned "planting trees is good" however nowhere close to sufficient.

"For a transition to take place, being socially and environmentally conscious cannot only be for those who can afford it".

The activist accused leaders of "cheating and fiddling around with numbers" with talk of cutting emissions to "net zero" - that is, emitting no more carbon than is absorbed by the planet or technical means - by 2050.

The 17-year-old also implored leaders to listen to the concerns experts and young people demanding action on climate change.

Asked whether Trump would watch the impeachment trial from Davos, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said, "He has a full day here in Davos, but will be briefed by staff periodically".

Gripping each side of the podium as he read from two teleprompters, Trump recited a litany of US economic statistics that he claimed showed his policies were working. As she walked out, flanked by security and chased by cameras, she did not speak to reporters, but looked down.

Much of Trump's speech focused on praising his administration's domestic economic policies, saying that by rolling back regulations, prosperity "would come thundering back at record speed".

Mr Trump's speech was met with nearly total silence from the crowd, unlike his last speech in Davos in 2018, when he was met with occasional boos and laughter.

But the president said he was a "big believer in the environment" and announced that the United States will join the "One Trillion Trees" initiative supported by the forum in an effort to offset carbon emissions.

Climate issues are a main theme at the forum and the phrase "Act on Climate" was written in the snow at the landing zone where Trump's Marine One helicopter set down in Davos.

The forum's own Global Risks report published last week warned that "climate change is striking harder and more rapidly than many expected" with global temperatures on track to increase by at least three degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) towards the end of the century.

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