Climate activist Greta Thunberg has hit back at the US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin after he said the teen should go to college before lecturing world leaders on how things should be done.
The Swedish teen responded to the jibe with a barrage of tweets and said it did not take a college degree ‘to realise carbon budget doesn’t add up’.
On Thursday, Mr Mnuchin took a personal swipe at the 17-year-old saying she was in no position to give advice on climate change because she hasn’t been to college yet.
His comments came at a press briefing at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss town of Davos, as he dismissed Greta’s suggestion that governments and companies need to cut back dramatically on their use of fossil fuels.
Climate activist Greta Thunberg (left) has hit back at the US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (right) after he said the teen should go to college before lecturing world leaders on the issue of climate change
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg can be seen (centre) as she joins a ‘Friday for future’ youth demonstration in Davos, Switzerland
When asked how that would affect the U.S. economic model, Mr Mnuchin was swift and condescending to Greta, who sparked a global environmental movement after she shot to fame a year ago by staging a regular strike at her school.
‘Is she the chief economist? Who is she? I’m confused,’ he said. Then following a brief pause, he said it was ‘a joke.’
‘After she goes and studies economics in college, she can come back and explain that to us,’ he concluded.
Greta waited a while before responding to Mnuchin’s comments.
In a trio of tweets, Greta, who is on a gap year from school until August, said ‘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.’
Without naming Mr Mnuchin in particular, she added that ‘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 today, during a scheduled press briefing on what is the final day of this year’s gathering of the elites, she continued to brush off his comments as ‘of course’ having ‘no effect’ on her and her fellow campaigners.
The 17-year-old star acknowledged such young activists ‘are being criticized all the time.’
‘We cannot care about those kinds of things,’ she said, insisting that her priority was drawing attention and action to concerns about global warming.
‘The situation is not being treated like the crisis it is.’
Mr Mnuchin said he has earned a degree in economics from Yale University, before moving on to working for Goldman Sachs and then the Trump administration.
In between, he founded the film production company Dune Entertainment, which in addition to helping out in the relaunch of the Mad Max franchise in 2015, has The Lego Movie and Wonder Woman among its credits.
Mr Mnuchin pictured at a session of the 50th World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He took a personal swipe at climate activist Greta Thunberg saying she should go to college before lecturing world leaders on climate change
Greta Thunberg gives her talk at the 50th World Economic Forum – an annual event that sees leaders from all around the world attend. She said it does not take an economics degree to see that the current carbon budget does not add up
To her supporters around the world, Greta has become a role model, not least for her criticism of US policy, particularly President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the country out of the Paris accord to limit global warming.
Greta, who was selected as Time’s Person of the Year for 2019, has returned to the World Economic Forum’s annual summit in Davos, Switzerland, this week to press her call for businesses, world leaders and others to take action in the face of scientific evidence showing that temperatures on Earth are rising.
She spoke to reporters along with four other young climate activists, before they set off through the streets of Davos for the latest weekly ‘Fridays for Future’ campaign that she launched.
At the news conference, Thunberg sought to share the spotlight, deferring to her fellow activists: Vanessa Nakate of Uganda, Loukina Tille of Switzerland, Luisa Neubauer of Germany, and Isabelle Axelsson of Sweden.
Mr Mnuchin insisted Thursday that US policy has been misinterpreted, and that President Donald Trump ‘absolutely believes’ in a clean environment.
‘What the president objects to is the Paris agreement, because he thought it was an unfair agreement for the United States,’ he said.
Greta can be seen with her fellow young protesters on the streets of Davos, in Switzerland as they set off on their demonstration calling for the world to do more to protect against climate change
Last month, Trump told Greta in a tweet to ‘chill’ and to ‘work on her Anger Management problem.’ It prompted a dry and humorous response from Greta, who changed her Twitter caption to read: ‘A teenager working on her anger management problem. Currently chilling and watching a good old-fashioned movie with a friend.’
Earth just finished its hottest decade on record, with the five last years being the five warmest, according to U.S. and other science agencies.
Scientists repeatedly point to more extreme weather as a problem worsened by human-caused climate change.
There have been 44 weather and climate disasters in the United States that caused at least $1 billion in damage since 2017, killing 3,569 people, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.