Trump and Greta engage in climate showdown at Davos
Even if the anticipated Trump versus Greta rematch (after she scowled at him at the United Nations in New York) may not have quite materialised - neither mentioned the other by name, nor did they meet - their differences reflect equally entrenched sides of the climate debate.Updated: Jan 22, 2020 08:32 IST
US President Donald Trump and climate activist Greta Thunberg talked past each other in duelling speeches at Davos on Tuesday on the climate crisis facing the planet.
Trump avoided the World Economic Forum’s key topic this year of climate change, beyond a dismissive reference to “alarmists” determined to “control every aspect of our lives”.
Thunberg and three other young climate activists told gathering the world leaders are not doing enough to deal with the climate emergency and warned them that time was running out.
“We must reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse,” Trump told an audience that included Thunberg, adding that his stewardship of the booming US economy, spurred on by soaring oil and gas production, meant that “this is a time for optimism”.
Thunberg, in typically uncompromising comments made at either end of Trump’s appearance, accused the elite Davos crowd of “empty words and promises” that amounted to doing nothing about climate change.
Even if the anticipated Trump versus Greta rematch (after she scowled at him at the United Nations in New York) may not have quite materialised - neither mentioned the other by name, nor did they meet - their differences reflect equally entrenched sides of the climate debate.
Only a handful of executives from the oil, gas and coal industries that are chiefly responsible for warming the planet were seen attending the panel at which Thunberg spoke, for example. Trump was greeted on arrival by giant letters etched in the Davos snow spelling out: “ACT ON CLIMATE.” Just as Trump was arriving in Davos, Thunberg said, “We need to start listening to the science, and treat this crisis with the importance it deserves.” Trump has pulled the U.S. out of the Paris accord to limit climate change and has traded barbs with Thunberg on social media. “Without treating it as a real crisis we cannot solve it,” Thunberg said. “It feels like the climate and environment is a hot topic now, thanks to young people pushing.”
The others on the panel were just as forceful and passionate about the effects of global warming and how they need to play a central role in raising awareness and insist on change.