Find Us

Trump, climate change icon Greta Thunberg lay out starkly different visions

Image: Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg listens to the speech of U.S
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg listens to the speech of President Donald Trump at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Tuesday. Copyright Fabrice Coffrini
Copyright Fabrice Coffrini
By Rachel Elbaum with NBC News World News
Published on
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button

"Planting tress is good of course, but it is nowhere near enough of what is needed," the Swedish teen said at the World Economic Forum.


We never expected them to agree.

President Donald Trump and teen climate change activist Greta Thunberg presented starkly differing visions of the challenges facing the Earth at the World Economic Forum on Tuesday — one optimistic, the other an ominous warning for the future.

Speaking just after Trump at the gathering of world business and political leaders in Davos, Switzerland, Thunbergrebutted the one environmental policy the president mentioned in the address on Tuesday — a plan to join the Trillion Trees Initiative.

"Planting trees is good of course, but it is nowhere near enough of what is needed," said Thunberg, whose solo "Fridays for Future" school strikes triggered a global phenomenon drawing millions to the streets to protest climate inaction.

Meanwhile, Trump, in a 30-minute address that focused on the strength of the U.S. economy, criticized "perennial prophets of doom" and "the heirs of yesterday's foolish fortune tellers."

Instead, the 73-year-old leader urged the audience to be optimistic and have faith in future advancements.

"A growing and vibrant market economy focused on the future lifts the human spirit and excites creativity strong enough to overcome any challenge," he said.

Thunberg's speech — titled "Averting a Climate Apocalypse" — stood in direct contrast to Trump's push for positivity.

"Our house is still on fire," said Thunberg, 17, repeating the message she gave last year at the forum.

She stressed that the world doesn't have time to wait or put its faith in future innovation to solve climate change, and struck out at world leaders for not doing enough to fight the climate emergency.

"We're not telling you to offset your emissions by just paying someone else to plant trees in places like Africa, while at the same time forests like the Amazon are being slaughtered at an infinitely higher rate," said Thunberg, who wore a hooded cardigan.

She also pledged that that her generation "will not give up without a fight."

Before his address, a reporter asked Trump if he thought Thunberg was right on climate change. Instead of mocking the teen as he has in the past, the president said that he's "a big believer in the environment. The environment to me is very important."

Last month, the president mocked the Swedish teen when she after she was named Time magazine's Person of the Year, calling her win "ridiculous" and suggesting she take anger management classes.

He also appeared to mock her in September after she gave an emotional speech at the United Nations.

"She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!" Trump wrote at the time, retweeting a video of the teen giving an impassioned plea at the United Nations Climate Action Summit.

Thunberg later updated her twitter profile with his description of her.

Share this articleComments

You might also like

Spain plans to phase out coal-fired power plants by 2030

Joe Biden pulls out of US presidential election race

UN assembly approves resolution granting Palestine new rights