‘Heirs of foolish fortune tellers’ | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 22, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:00 AM, January 22, 2020

‘Heirs of foolish fortune tellers’

Trump rejects ‘prophets of doom’ as Thunberg warns Davos over climate inaction

US President Donald Trump yesterday assailed environmental “prophets of doom”, delivering an uncompromising message in Davos after Swedish teenage campaigner Greta Thunberg slammed government inaction on the climate crisis.

Thunberg was in the audience in the Swiss Alps to hear a typically bullish speech by Trump, delivered just before the start of his Senate impeachment trial in Washington.

The 50th meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) got under way in the ski resort with an avowed focus on climate change but with starkly different visions over global warming laid bare.

“We must reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse,” said Trump, growling that “they want to see us do badly”.

He claimed that “alarmists” had been wrong on previous occasions by predicting population crisis, mass starvation and the end of oil.

Trump branded those warning of out-of-control global warming and other environmental disasters “the heirs of yesterday’s foolish fortune tellers”. Trump told reporters later that his Davos trip was devoted to meeting “the most important people in the world and we’re bringing back tremendous business”.

“The other’s just a hoax,” he said of the “disgraceful” impeachment trial.

Before Trump’s appearance, Thunberg underlined the message that has inspired millions around the world, saying “basically nothing has been done” to fight climate change.

“It will require much more than this. This is just the very beginning,” the 17-year-old said.

Speaking calmly and with a wry smile, Thunberg acknowledged that her campaign which began with school strikes had attracted huge attention without yet achieving concrete change.

“There is a difference between being heard to actually leading to something,” she said.

While the WEF and individual business leaders have been detailing their own concerns about climate change, Greenpeace complained in a new report that some of the world’s biggest banks, insurers and pension funds have collectively invested $1.4 trillion in fossil fuel companies since the Paris climate deal in 2016.

Business leaders are likely also to be concerned by the state of the global economy whose prospects, according to the International Monetary Fund, have improved but remain brittle.

The IMF cut its global growth estimate for 2020 to 3.3 percent, saying that a recent truce in the trade war between China and the US had brought some stability but that risks remained.

Activists meanwhile will be pressing for much more concrete action to fight inequality, after Oxfam issued a report outlining how the number of billionaires has doubled in the past decade and the world’s 22 richest men now have more wealth than all the women in Africa.

 

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