Trump rejects environmental 'prophets of doom' at Davos forum

Trump rejects environmental 'prophets of doom' at Davos forum

President Donald Trump delivers the opening remarks at the World Economic Forum
President Donald Trump delivers the opening remarks at the World Economic Forum on Jan 21, 2020, in Davos, Switzerland. (Photo: AP/ Evan Vucci)

DAVOS, Switzerland: US President Donald Trump took aim on Tuesday (Jan 21) at the "perennial prophets of doom" on the environment, telling the annual Davos forum that warnings of climate crisis were "foolish".

In a keynote speech to the 50th World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort, Trump touted fossil fuels, deregulation and a booming US economy - a message in stark contrast to the dire warnings delivered by teenage campaigner Greta Thunberg and others.

"We must reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse," Trump said hours after Thunberg told the World Economic Forum that governments had done "basically nothing" to reverse climate change.

With Thunberg in the audience, Trump branded those warning of out-of-control global warming and other environmental disasters "the heirs of yesterday's foolish fortune tellers".

As she walked out, flanked by security and chased by cameras, she did not speak to reporters, but looked down.

Activist Greta Thunberg leaves the room following President Donald Trump's opening remarks
Activist Greta Thunberg leaves the room following President Donald Trump's opening remarks at the World Economic Forum on Jan 21, 2020, in Davos. (Photo: AP/ Evan Vucci)

Trump ticked off what he said were previous predictions that had been proved wrong, ranging from over-population in the 1960s to "an end of oil" in the 1990s.

"We will never let radical socialists destroy our economy," said Trump, apparently referring to his Democratic party opponents ahead of the presidential election in November.

Trump took the stage in Davos just after the Swiss president delivered a speech appealing for the world to care for the planet.

But the US leader heralded the United States as "number one producer of oil and natural gas".

He rattled off numbers indicating what he said were huge savings for American consumers and invited Europe to buy more US energy products.

READ: Davos financiers pump US$1.4 trillion into fossil fuels: Greenpeace

The expansion of oil, gas and coal production has "been so successful that the United States no longer needs to import energy from hostile nations", he said.

"Our European allies no longer have to be vulnerable" if they "use America's vast supply".

Trump said the United States was joining a newly announced international initiative called the "one trillion trees" project and he said he wanted to conserve "the majesty of God's creation and the natural beauty of our world."

"I'm a very big believer in the environment. I want the cleanest water and the cleanest air," he added.

But he said technical innovation, not restricting economic growth, is the way forward.

"Fear and doubt is not a good thought process," he said.

Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz said the strongest thing about Trump's speech was that it was scheduled between sessions on climate change. He criticised the President's swipe at climate 'pessimists'.

"As if what we are seeing with our eyes are not there," Stiglitz said. "It's astounding."

In Washington, the impeachment trial begins in earnest in the US Senate after the Republican president was formally charged by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives in December with "high crimes and misdemeanours".

Trump, who is expected to be acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate, says he is innocent of the charges.

Source: AFP/Reuters/ec

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