Davos 2020: Trump rejects ′prophets of doom′ at climate-focused WEF | News | DW | 21.01.2020
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Davos 2020: Trump rejects 'prophets of doom' at climate-focused WEF

Despite climate topping the agenda at this year's World Economic Forum, prominent climate change skeptic Donald Trump is one of the first speakers. He and activist Greta Thunberg laid out competing visions.

Watch video 00:44

Trump: 'Fear and doubt are not good thought processes'

US President Donald Trump dismissed the concerns of environmental activists as "pessimism" in a speech to political and business leaders at the start of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos on Tuesday.

Climate change and global warming are topping the agenda at this year's annual meeting in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, with activists at odds with businesses and governments about how to tackle the issue.

What Trump said:

  • The US leader dubbed climate activists "prophets of doom" and rejected their warnings, saying: "Fear and doubt is not a good thought process."
  • Despite concerns about emissions, Trump praised the US as one of the world's largest producers of natural gas.
  • He announced that the US would be joining the WEF's 1 trillion trees initiative.
  • When asked about his stance on climate change by reporters ahead of his speech, he said: "I'm a big believer in the environment. The environment is very important to me."

  • 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."
  • "A nation's highest duty is to its own citizens," he said. "Only when governments put their citizens first, will they be invested in their national futures."

Read more: Social entrepreneurs meet at World Economic Forum in Davos

Greta: 'Basically nothing has been done'

Following Trump's speech, Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg criticized world leaders and business executives for failing to meet their climate targets.

"Unlike you, my generation will not give up without a fight. The facts are clear but they are still too uncomfortable for you to address," she told a panel.

"Our house is still on fire. Your inaction is fueling the flames by the hour. And we are telling you to act as if you loved your children above all else," Thunberg said, echoing her remarks from her WEF appearance last year.

At a panel just before Trump arrived, Thunberg emphasized that moderate changes will not be enough to slow the impact of climate change.

"We are all fighting for the environment and climate. If you see it from a bigger perspective, basically nothing has been done. It will require much more than this. This is just the very beginning," she said.

Read more: Davos medical tourism sparks alarm about corporate culture

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg speaks at the 2020 WEF (Reuters/D. Balibouse)

'There is a difference between being heard to actually leading to something,' Thunberg said at the start of the WEF

Who else will be there? Over 50 heads of state and government will be in attendance along with over 3,000 other participants. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to speak on Thursday. Following in Thunberg's footsteps, other young activists are also taking part this year, including South African climate activist Ayakha Melithafa and Irish teen scientist Fionn Ferreira.

What to look out for: It will be the first time that Trump meets with the new European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen. The US leader has repeatedly clashed with the EU over trade and tax policies. It also remains to be seen whether businesses will back up their pledges on climate change with concrete action.

What is Davos? It's the 50th meeting of the World Economic Forum this year, which was launched by German economist Klaus Schwab. The meeting takes place at the Swiss ski resort of Davos, drawing world leaders, business executives, academics, charity heads and celebrities. The conference is used to hold bilateral meetings, make business deals or to try and impact the global agenda. The meeting this year runs from January 21 – 24.

Watch video 02:29

Social entrepreneurs bring fair trade spirit to Davos

rs/rt (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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