U.S. President Donald Trump took to Twitter in an apparent attempt to mock 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg after she delivered an impassioned speech at the United Nations Climate Action Summit on Monday.
“She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future,” Trump wrote in a tweet posted late Monday. “So nice to see!”
Trump’s tweet came hours after Thunberg harshly criticized world leaders for their inaction on climate change.
“This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean, yet you all come to us young people for hope,” Thunberg said, visibly emotional. “How dare you.”
“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” Thunberg continued, adding that the plans world leaders unveil will not be enough to respond to the rate of the planet’s warming.
Thunberg told the UN that even the strictest emission cuts being discussed only give the world a 50 per cent chance of limiting future warming to another 0.4 degrees Celsius from now — a global goal.
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A 50 per cent chance, Thunberg said, is “simply not acceptable.”
“You are failing us, but the young people are starting to understand your betrayal,” she said. “Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up, and change is coming whether you like it or not.”
Thunberg did not reply to Trump’s tweet, but by Tuesday morning, her biography on Twitter had been changed to read: “A very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future.”
Global Climate Strike and the Paris Agreement
Last week, hundreds of thousands of students across the world skipped class to participate in the Global Climate Strike in an effort to pressure world leaders to tackle climate change.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Thunberg called the event “such a victory.”
“I would never have predicted or believed that this was going to happen, and so fast — and only in 15 months,” she said.
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Ahead of the summit, Thunberg said world leaders have an “opportunity to do something.”
“And they should take that,” she said. “Otherwise, they should feel ashamed.”
At a 2015 summit in Paris, nations committed to hold global warming to less than two degrees Celsius and set a goal of limiting the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
The U.S. had been a signatory on the Paris Agreement until Trump announced in June 2017 that the country would be withdrawing.
However, with climate impacts such as extreme weather, thawing permafrost and sea-level rise unfolding much faster than expected, scientists say the urgency of the crisis has intensified since the Paris Agreement was made.
Following Thunberg’s speech on Monday, world leaders took turns telling the United Nations how they plan to prevent climate change from reaching even more dangerous levels, however they conceded that it was not enough.
Some appeared to be moved by Thunberg’s remarks.
“I was very struck by the emotion in the room when some of the young people spoke earlier,” French President Emmanuel Macron said. “I also want to play my role in listening to them. I think that no political decision-maker can remain deaf to this call for justice between generations.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the young people are “right.”
“Young people are here providing solutions, insisting on accountability and demanding urgent action,” he said. “They are right. My generation has failed its responsibility to protect our planet. That must change.”
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Trump stopped briefly at the climate summit on Monday, staying for approximately 15 minutes while German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke, but opted not to make remarks on behalf of the U.S.
Trump not sure climate change a man-made problem
In a tweet dated November 2012, prior to his presidency, Trump claimed global warming was a concept “created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
However, in a 2018 interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes, Trump said he does not think it is a hoax, adding that he’s not sure the problem is man-made.
“I think something’s happening. Something’s changing, and it’ll change back again,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a hoax. I think there’s probably a difference. But I don’t know that it’s man-made.”
“I will say this,” he continued. “I don’t want to give trillions and trillions of dollars. I don’t want to lose millions and millions of jobs.”
— With files from the Associated Press and Reuters