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Not everyone was a fan of climate activist Greta Thunberg’s passionate speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this week.
On Thursday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin chided the 17-year old and her demand for a complete divestment from the fossil fuel industry with the stock answer for every adult who’s found themselves debating a teenager. “Is she the chief economist, or who is she? I’m confused,” Mnuchin said, then clarifying it was a “joke” that was “funny.”
“After she goes and studies economics in college, she can come back and explain that to us,” Mnuchin continued, according to CNBC.
Thunberg later responded on Twitter without directly mentioning Mnuchin by name.
“My gap year ends in August, but it doesn’t take a college degree in economics to realize that our remaining 1.5 degrees Celsius carbon budget and ongoing fossil fuel subsidies and investments don’t add up,” Thunberg wrote, alongside a graph showing rising emission levels.
“So either you tell us how to achieve this mitigation or explain to future generations and those already affected by the climate emergency why we should abandon our climate commitments,” the young activist continued.
Thunberg made the call for fossil fuel divestment — as well as an end to subsidies, exploration, and extraction — in her remarks at the World Economic Forum earlier this week. “We don’t want these things done by 2050, 2030, or even 2021,” Thunberg said. “We want this done now.
Thunberg’s tussle with Mnuchin wasn’t her first with the Trump administration this week. During his own Davos speech on Tuesday, President Donald Trump called climate activists and scientists “perennial prophets of doom,” and said it was “not a time for pessimism.” (Trump also called Thunberg “very angry” in an interview with the Wall Street Journal prior to his Davos appearance.)
Later that day in her speech, Thunberg didn’t mention Trump by name but paraphrased his earlier remarks. “You say children shouldn’t worry. You say: ‘Just leave this to us. We will fix this, we promise we won’t let you down. Don’t be so pessimistic,’" Thunberg said.
“And then, nothing. Silence,” she continued. “Or something worse than silence. Empty words and promises, which give the impression that sufficient action is being taken.”
On Thursday, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved its “Doomsday Clock” to 100 seconds to midnight, largely due to the “simultaneous existential dangers” of climate change and nuclear war.
“If decision makers continue to fail to act … citizens around the world should rightfully echo the words of climate activist @GretaThunberg and ask: ‘How dare you?’” Bulletin CEO Rachel Bronson said.
Cover image: Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg attends the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. The 50th annual meeting of the forum will take place in Davos from Jan. 21 until Jan. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)