DAVOS, SWITZERLAND — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin dismissed Greta Thunberg’s call for private and public sector divestment from fossil fuel companies, telling Yahoo Finance at a press briefing: “After she goes and studies economics in college she can come back and explain that to us.”
Mnuchin also joked about 17-year-old climate activist: “Who is that? Is she the chief economist?”
Thunberg responded on Twitter, stating: "It doesn't take a college degree in economics to realise that our remaining 1,5° carbon budget and ongoing fossil fuel subsidies and investments don't add up."
President Trump and Thunberg have made alternating climate-related remarks at this week’s World Economic Forum, appearing to refer to the other indirectly. In a speech on Tuesday, Trump criticized “prophets of doom and their predictions of apocalypse” while also committing the U.S. to joining the World Economic Forum’s One Trillion Trees initiative, which aims to plant or conserve one trillion trees.
An hour later, in the same building, Thunberg said that planting a trillion trees was “not enough” to address climate change.
Mnuchin noted that the Trump administration did have concerns about the environment, but had other plans for it.
“I think that there’s a real misinterpretation of the US policy,” he said. “Let me be very clear. President Trump absolutely believes in clean air and clean water and having a clean environment.”
“What the president objects to is the Paris agreement,” Mnuchin added. “The reason why the president objected to the Paris agreement was he thought it was an unfair agreement to the US. This is nothing against China and India but the real environmental issues right now are in both those countries. If you look at the US and what we’ve done relative to rest of world US thought it was an unfair agreement.”
Climate is now a “hot topic because of young people pushing” but “nothing has been done [because] global emissions of carbon have not been reduced,” Thunberg said in remarks on Tuesday.
“That is of course what we’re trying to achieve,” Thunberg said. “Without treating this as a real crisis, we can’t solve it.”
She called on the global community to dramatically reduce carbon emissions over the next decade, but added that such an effort must include an awareness of “equity,” which addresses the disproportionate carbon emissions released in affluent countries.
“Richer countries need to get down to zero degrees much faster,” Thunberg said.
Max Zahn is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Find him on twitter @MaxZahn.