UNITED NATIONS — Hours after teen environmentalist Greta Thunberg blasted world leaders in a fiery speech at the U.N. in New York on Monday, President Donald Trump appeared to taunt her in a late-night tweet by referring to her as “a happy little girl.”
She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see! https://t.co/1tQG6QcVKO
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2019
In response, the 16-year-old Swede added the words, “A very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future” under her photo on Twitter.
Trump and Thunberg briefly crossed paths on Monday at the U.N. Climate Action Summit, held on the eve of the U.N. General Assembly. The president had stopped in to the event for a few minutes just before she was introduced but did not stay. Thunberg was photographed standing behind Trump, glaring at him.
It is not clear if they had any interaction. Thunberg had said last month that she had no plans to talk with Trump while at the UN.
“Why should I waste time talking to him when he, of course, is not going to listen to me?” she told CBS in an interview shared online on Aug. 13. “I can’t say anything that he hasn’t already heard.”
Trump does not believe in climate change and has reversed many of the environmental safeguards instituted during the administration of his predecessor, Barack Obama.
In her nearly five-minute speech Monday at the U.N., Thunberg chastised, cajoled, challenged and threatened world leaders who had gathered on the eve of the General Assembly. She warned them that the window for addressing climate change is quickly narrowing.
When asked what message she wanted to bring to global leaders, she responded: “My message is that: We’ll be watching you.”
Thunberg then ripped into the audience, saying: “This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you!
“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”
Visibly agitated, she continued:
“For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you’re doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.”
“You say you hear us and that you understand the urgency. But no matter how sad and angry I am, I do not want to believe that. Because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And that I refuse to believe.”
Thunberg appeared on the verge of tears several times during her speech.
She said the goal of cutting emissions in half in 10 years will give the earth a 50% chance of staying below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“Fifty percent may be acceptable to you,” she said. But “a 50% risk is simply not acceptable to us — we who have to live with the consequences.”
“How dare you pretend that this can be solved with just ‘business as usual’ and some technical solutions?”
The teen said the leaders “are still not mature enough to tell it like it is.”
“You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you.
“We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.”
Shortly after concluding her impassioned plea, Thunberg, along with 15 other youths from 12 different countries, went across the street to a UNICEF office and announced that the group was filing a complaint with the United Nations concerning climate change. The group is charging five countries with violating their human rights by failing to uphold the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The countries are Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany and Turkey.
The United States has not ratified the part of the treaty that allows children to file complaints against countries.
While Thunberg was in New York on Monday, thousands of climate change activists disrupted traffic in Washington, D.C. Many intersections from Capitol Hill to downtown were gridlocked or shut down altogether, causing numerous headaches for drivers. Several “Shut Down D.C.” protesters were arrested.
Last week Trunberg addressed Congress and met separately with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democratic members of Congress, as well as former President Barack Obama.
On Wednesday she testified before the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee. “I don’t want you to listen to me, I want you to listen to the scientists,” she told them. “I want you to unite behind the science and I want you to take real action.”
On Friday, she and other youth climate activists marched in front of the White House. Thunberg has risen to prominence after starting a global movement in August 2018 in which students skip classes on Fridays and instead protest to demand action on climate change. The rallies are called #FridaysForFuture.