Trump, who never mentioned his historic impeachment trial underway in the US Senate in Washington DC, never mentioned the words "climate change" and only once mentioned an environmental initiative and once slammed the climate protesters

By Ian Horswill

Posted on January 22, 2020

With climate change activist Greta Thunberg in the audience having made a speech earlier at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, US President Donald Trump only once made mention of the climate movement and made one negative comment about the protesters.

Trump, who also never mentioned his historic impeachment trial underway in the US Senate in Washington DC, spoke up the US economy at the forum held in the Davos ski resort, Switzerland.

Trump reminded the audience of business and government leaders that when he spoke at the World Economic Forum in 2018, “I told you that we had launched the great American comeback”.

“Today I’m proud to declare the United States is in the midst of an economic boom, the likes of which the world has never seen before,” the US president said.

Trump’s depictions of the US economy as in the greatest shape ever overstate progress during his tenure, AP News reported. The economy grew 2.9% in 2018 — the same pace it reached in 2015 under Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama — and has not hit historically high growth rates.

Climate issues are a main theme at the forum and the phrase “Act on Climate” was written in the snow at the Davos landing zone where Trump’s helicopter landed.

Trump’s sole lone reference to climate issues in his speech came when he announced the US would join a World Economic Forum initiative to plant one trillion trees worldwide.

Afterwards, in an apparent reference to those who warn about climate change, Trump said the world must “reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse”.

Earth has ended its hottest decade on record with the five last years as the five hottest years on record, according to US and other science agencies. Scientists repeatedly point to more extreme weather as a problem worsened by human-caused climate change. There have been 44 weather and climate disasters in the US that caused at least US$1 billion in damage since 2017, killing 3,569 people, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Trump is pulling the US out of the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement under which nearly 200 nations set goals to curb emissions of the heat-trapping gasses that lead to climate change. Trump has called the Paris accord an unfair economic burden to the US economy.

Thunberg, who has been criticised by Trump, said world and business leaders aren’t taking the threat of global warming seriously.

“Planting trees is good of course but it’s nowhere near enough,” Greta Thunberg said.

Thunberg, Time’s Person of the Year, appeared on the sidelines of the forum last year. This year, the 17-year-old from Stockholm, Sweden, addressed the world leaders before Trump’s speech.

“Pretty much nothing has been done since the global emissions of CO2 has not reduced,” Thunberg said. “If you see it from that aspect, what has concretely been done, if you see it from a bigger perspective, basically nothing …. it will require much more than this, this is just the very beginning.”

Asked what she wanted to see in the future, Thunberg said “that we start listening to the science and that we actually start treating this crisis as the crisis it is”.

Thunberg said she has spent a year trying to promote the findings of a 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that shows countries can only release another 420 gigatons of carbon dioxide in order to have the best chance at keeping the rise in global temperatures to under 1.5 degrees. At current levels, that amount will be emitted within roughly eight and a half years.

“I don’t think I have seen one media outlet or person in power communicating this or what it means,” Thunberg said. “I know you don’t want to report on this. I know you don’t want to talk about this. But I assure you I will continue to repeat these numbers until you do.”

Thunberg repeated her call for all companies, banks, institutions and governments to abandon the fossil fuel economy.

“Immediately end all fossil fuel subsidies and immediately and completely divest from fossil fuels. We don’t want these things done by 2050, or 2030 or even 2021 — we want this done now,” she said.