DAVOS, Switzerland — President Donald Trump bragged Tuesday about the American economy and rejected warnings that the world is barreling toward an environmental crisis, a key concern at this year’s World Economic Forum.
Speaking to the annual economic summit in the Swiss Alps, Trump boasted of producing more “traditional fuels” like natural gas and coal that contribute to global warming.
He urged optimism at a time when many business leaders, politicians and activists here have expressed anxiety about waning international cooperation and climate change, trends that Trump has either championed or dismissed.
“We must reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse,” Trump said. “They are the heirs of yesterday’s foolish fortune tellers.”
Trump said the United States would support a new global effort to plant one trillion new trees, drawing polite applause in the conference hall. But there was no doubt that the president is out of step with the rest of the summit.
Klaus Schwab, a German engineer and economist who founded the World Economic Forum five decades ago, sounded a much more pessimistic tone shortly before Trump spoke.
“The world is in a state of emergency, and the window to act is closing,” he said.
Simonetta Sommaruga, the president of Switzerland, expressed alarm about the effects of climate change as global temperatures rise.
“The world is on fire,” she said. “We see the rain forest burning in the Amazon and the bush fires burning in Australia.”
Sommaruga added, “When economic interests are placed above the functioning of the natural world … the consequences for human and for the economy are dramatic.”
Another star attraction at Davos has been Greta Thunberg, the 17-year-old Swedish climate activist, who complained that “pretty much nothing has been done” to stop global warming despite all of the conversations about the problem.
“Without treating it as a real crisis we cannot solve it,” she said before Trump spoke.
But Trump appeared optimistic after flying overnight from Washington, where his Senate impeachment trial is beginning in earnest.
Gripping each side of the podium as he read from two teleprompters, Trump recited a litany of U.S. economic statistics that he claimed showed his policies were working.
“Today I’m proud to declare that the United States is in the midst of a economic boon, the likes of which the world has never seen before,” he said.
Trump’s election sparked alarm among the global elite who gather in Davos every year to ruminate on the world’s challenges, and the president appeared eager to claim vindication.
“The time for skepticism is over,” he said.
Trump received some support from the International Monetary Fund, which predicted that global growth would hit 3.3% this year. That’s up from 2.9% last year, the worst year for the world economy since the Great Recession from 2007 to 2009.
The IMF said the more upbeat forecast is largely due to Trump and China easing their trade war, and the stimulus from 49 central banks, including the Federal Reserve, that have lowered interest rates.
Trump did not mention his impeachment during his speech, but briefly rehashed his complaints about the process before entering the main hall.
“It’s just a hoax. It’s the witch hunt that’s been going on for years,” he told reporters.
The Democrat-controlled House impeached Trump last month for asking Ukraine to investigate a political rival in the 2020 race. The Republican-controlled Senate is expected to acquit him and leave him in office, possibly as soon as next week.
Trump is scheduled to spend the rest of his two-day visit to Davos in meetings with business executives and other world leaders.
He’s slated to sit down with Barham Salih, the Iraqi president; Imran Khan, the Pakistani prime minister; Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission; and Nechirvan Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Regional Government. More meetings are scheduled with Schwab and Sommaruga.
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