(Associated Press) President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he’s led a “spectacular” turnaround of the U.S. economy and urged the world to invest in America, but had less to say about climate change issues that are a focus of this year’s gathering of top business and political leaders in the Swiss Alps.
Trump kept to his speech script and did not mention the historic impeachment trial that was set to reconvene in the U.S. Senate in Washington later Tuesday. But he couldn’t resist when asked about the trial by the hordes of reporters covering the World Economic Form in Davos.
“It’s disgraceful,” Trump said of the proceeding.
Trump’s two-day visit is a test of his ability to balance his anger over being impeached with a desire to project leadership on the world stage.
Trump reminded the audience that when he spoke here 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 president said.
American economist Kenneth Rogoff took issue with Trump’s comments, saying some of Trump’s claims about the strength of the U.S. economy are true. But Rogoff noted that the economy wasn’t doing badly when Trump took office. “It’s been a good 10 years and his three years probably better than expected,” Rogoff said, adding that he thought Trump was careful to keep his comments about climate change to a minimum to avoid getting booed.
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.
Late last year, the Trump administration began pulling the U.S. out of the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement under which nearly 200 nations set goals to curb emissions of heat-trapping gasses that lead to climate change. Trump has called the Paris accord an unfair economic burden to the U.S. economy.
Trump’s speech was met with virtual silence by the audience, apart from a brief flurry of applause when Trump said the U.S. would join a World Economic Forum initiative to plant 1 trillion trees worldwide.
Young climate activists including Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg told business and political elites gathered Tuesday at the World Economic Forum that they aren’t doing enough to tackle the climate emergency and warned them that time was running out.
At a panel in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, climate campaigners expressed hope that their generation could work with those in power to bring about the change needed to limit global warming even as Thunberg – a vocal critic of leaders’ inaction – said not enough has been done.
“We need to start listening to the science, and treat this crisis with the importance it deserves,” said the 17-year-old, just as U.S. President Donald Trump was arriving in Davos, where he later gave a speech. 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 , adding that it was time to stop burning fossil fuels immediately, not decades from now.
The Swedish teenager came to fame by staging a regular strike at her school, sparking a global movement that eventually earned her Time Magazine’s award as the 2019 Person of the Year. Last year she told leaders gathered in Davos that they should “panic” about climate change.
Speaking in the afternoon, Thunberg brushed aside Trump’s announcement that the U.S. would join the economic forum’s initiative to plant 1 trillion trees across the globe to help capture carbon dioxide from Earth’s atmosphere.
“Planting trees is good of course but it’s nowhere near enough,” Thunberg said. “It cannot replace mitigation,” she added, referring to efforts to drastically cut emissions in the near term.
Thunberg 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.
While there has been widespread criticism both inside and outside the United States over Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the 2015 Paris climate accord, Thunberg said the rest of the world, too, was effectively missing the targets set down in that agreement.
She dismissed the notion that climate change is a partisan issue, insisting that “this isn’t about right or left.”
Responding to those who have accused her of doom-mongering, Thunberg said her message was simply based on scientific facts, not irrational fears.
“My generation will not give up without a fight,” she said.