Donald Trump blasts ‘prophets of doom’ to attack teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg over her climate crisis warnings and climate activism at the World Economic Forum (WEF). He used a keynote speech to tell the world’s business leaders to stop listening to them. The comment came as Greta Thunberg demanded immediate action in Davos.
President Trump hailed the growth record of America and made a comparison between campaigners against global heating and those who feared the 1960s population explosion and the 1970s mass starvation.
Thunberg scoffed at Trump’s claim on the day of opening in Switzerland governed by the climate emergency and said that his support for a new initiative for planting 1tn trees demonstrated his concern for the environment.
“Our house is still on fire. Your inaction is fuelling the flames by the hour,” Thunberg said. “And we’re asking you to act as if you love your children more than anything else.”
At the WEF, the US president and Thunberg did not meet face to face with each other. However, there was hardly any doubt about whom he was referring to in his speech as he defended his presidential stint since he made his way to the White House three years back.
“This is not a time for pessimism,” he said. “This is a time for optimism. To embrace the possibilities of tomorrow, we must reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse. They are the heirs of yesterday’s foolish fortune tellers.
“They want to see us do badly, but we don’t let that happen. They predicted an overpopulation crisis in the 1960s, mass starvation in the 70s, and an end of oil in the 1990s. These alarmists always demand the same thing: absolute power to dominate, transform and control every aspect of our lives. We will never let radical socialists destroy our economy, wreck our country or eradicate our liberty.”
He said he was “a big believer in the environment” in a speech that ensured he was absent from Washington as impeachment hearings took place on Capitol Hill. “The environment to me is very important,” he said.
Without mentioning the climate emergency, he supported the plan that has been launched in Davos to capture carbon by planting trees on a mass scale in the coming years. “What I want is the cleanest water and the cleanest air,” he said.
Environmentalists were not impressed by a speech in which Trump boasted that the US was self-sufficient in energy because of his support for the coal and oil industries.
Thunberg said: “Planting trees is good, of course, but it’s nowhere near enough, and it cannot replace real mitigation and re-wilding nature. We don’t need to lower emissions. Emissions need to stop.”
Thunberg had demanded three things in Davos:
- Stop all investment in fossil fuel investment and extraction by companies, banks, institutions, and governments.
- Putting an end to all fossil fuel subsidies on an immediate basis.
- Exiting from fossil fuel investments immediately.
“We don’t want it done in 2050, 2030, or even 2021, we want it done now,” Thunberg said. “You might think we’re naive, but if you won’t do it, you must explain to your children why you’ve given up on the Paris agreement goals, and knowingly created a climate crisis,” she said.
According to her, the right, the left, and the center of politics had all failed the sustainability test. “No political ideology or economic structure has managed to tackle the climate and environmental emergency and create a cohesive and sustainable world.”
Jennifer Morgan, Greenpeace’s executive director, said: “The 1tn trees initiative didn’t make up for the lack of a wider attack on the climate emergency, and Trump had failed to appreciate the scale of the crisis.
“To assume you can have a great, profitable America, and happy Americans without understanding the risk to Americans from climate change is astounding. It just demonstrates the level of denial, and the capture of this government by the coal, oil and gas industries.”
Trump stated that the American dream was back, “bigger, better and stronger” than before, and primarily the low-income workers were receiving the benefits of growth rather than the better off. Trump mentioned 7m jobs that had been created during his tenure and also opening of 12,000 factories.
Joseph Stiglitz, an economics professor at Columbia University, rejected many of the president’s claims. “Research shows that Trump normally tells five or six lies a day. He far exceeded that today,” he said, noting that growth under Barack Obama had been faster than it was under Trump in recent times and that life expectancy had fallen in his every presidency year.
Even though the growth of the US economy in previous decades was far more rapid than it has since Trump was elected in November 2016, Trump said: “I’m proud to say that the US is in an economic boom, the likes of which the world has never seen before.”
The main hall in Davos and an overspill room were packed to hear the president, although there were some titters as he ran through a litany of boasts.
“I hold up the American model as an example to the world,” Trump said, contrasting his record with Obama, his predecessor. Citing trade deals signed last week with China and Mexico-Canada as models for the 21st century, he added, US was “thriving, flourishing and winning” unprecedentedly.
“I am looking forward to a tremendous new trade deal with the UK,” Trump said, noting that Britain had a “wonderful new prime minister” in Boris Johnson, who was interested in a deal.
As per the president, the economic boom took place despite the US Federal Reserve, which “raised rates too fast and cut them too slowly.”