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Talking to Trump would have ‘wasted my time,’ Greta Thunberg says of UN moment

Click to play video: '‘You have woken up the world’ David Attenborough tells Greta Thunberg during chat on climate'
‘You have woken up the world’ David Attenborough tells Greta Thunberg during chat on climate
WATCH: In an interview for BBC radio's Today program, which she guest-edited, teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg spoke to veteran British broadcaster Sir David Attenborough via video link about climate change inaction. – Dec 30, 2019

Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg says she had no desire to discuss the environment with U.S. President Donald Trump at the United Nations climate summit last September, where their brief crossover became part of a now-viral generational feud.

The Swedish climate crusader laughed off Trump’s attacks against her on Monday during an interview as guest editor of BBC Radio’s Today program. Thunberg was responding to the now-infamous “death stare” photo captured at the UN, in which she can be seen glaring at Trump from the background while the president marches past her. Thunberg says talking with Trump would have been pointless at that time.

“Honestly, I don’t think I would have said anything because obviously he’s not listening to scientists and experts, so why would he listen to me?” she said.

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“I probably wouldn’t have said anything. I wouldn’t have wasted my time.”

Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg watches as U.S. President Donald Trump enters the United Nations to speak with reporters in a still image from video taken in New York City on Sept. 23, 2019. REUTERS/Andrew Hofstetter

The president did not speak to Thunberg when they were in the same room. Instead, Trump mocked her on Twitter several hours later, calling her a “very happy girl with a bright future” after she delivered an angry speech to world leaders about the looming climate crisis.

Click to play video: 'Greta Thunberg blasts world leaders at U.N. Climate summit in powerful speech: ‘How dare you’'
Greta Thunberg blasts world leaders at U.N. Climate summit in powerful speech: ‘How dare you’

Trump also ridiculed Thunberg earlier this month after Time magazine chose her over him as person of the year.

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Thunberg responded to both of Trump’s online attacks by twisting his words and putting them into her Twitter profile.

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“Those attacks are just funny because they obviously don’t mean anything,” Thunberg said on Monday.

“I guess of course it means something — they are terrified of young people bringing change which they don’t want — but that is just proof that we are actually doing something and that they see us as some kind of threat.”

Since coming into office, Trump has denounced the scientific evidence of climate change, slashed environmental regulations and withdrawn the United States from the Paris climate agreement.

Click to play video: 'Trump denies climate report stating U.S. will see huge damage to economy, says ‘I don’t believe it’'
Trump denies climate report stating U.S. will see huge damage to economy, says ‘I don’t believe it’

Thunberg has become a champion for the climate change cause ever since she started skipping school on Fridays at the age of 15 to protest outside Swedish Parliament.

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As Thunberg’s movement has grown, right-wing leaders and climate skeptics have lined up to attack her and discredit her message. People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier described her as “mentally unstable” earlier this year, while Brazillian President Jair Bolsonaro has called her a “brat” for being concerned about the deaths of Indigenous people in the Amazon rainforest.

Broadcaster David Attenborough applauded Thunberg’s efforts in a Skype interview between the two on Monday.

“You have aroused the world,” he said.

Attenborough also offered his take on why people like Trump are so resistant to her message.

“The trouble is, politicians are just concerned about tomorrow and the day after,” he said. “When you say there’s this big danger looming in 20 years’ time [and] we’ve got to do something now, they say yes, of course, we’ll leave it ’til the day after tomorrow because we’ve got urgent things.”

The girl’s father, Svante Thunberg, said she’s done an impressive job handling all the right-wing attacks and fake news that have been directed at her since she rose to international prominence with her school strikes outside Swedish Parliament.

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“Quite frankly I don’t know how she does it, but she laughs most of the time,” Svante Thunberg said. “She finds it hilarious.”

The elder Thunberg told the BBC that he has accompanied his daughter on her travels because he cares about her and just wants her to be happy.

“I did all these things, I knew they were the right thing to do,” he said. “But I didn’t do it to save the climate. I did it to save my child.”

He said she’s become quite happy through her activism — and she won’t need him to chaperone her for much longer, as she is due to turn 17 on Jan. 3.

Click to play video: 'Greta Thunberg named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year'
Greta Thunberg named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year

Thunberg said she hopes she doesn’t have to continue leading her global climate strikes, which prompted her to cross the ocean on a ship over the summer to speak about the cause in the United States and Canada.

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“I hope I don’t have to be a climate activist anymore,” she said on Monday.

Thunberg added that she’s eager to get back to school in August.

“I just want to be just as everyone else,” she said. “I want to educate myself and be just like a normal teenager.”

With files from Reuters

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