Donald Trump, Greta Thunberg in Focus at Davos World Economic Forum

Credit: Bloomberg / Contributor / Getty
Donald Trump, Greta Thunberg

The president said at the annual event in Switzerland that the U.S. was "flourishing and winning like never before," while the activist urged attendees to treat the climate crisis "with the importance it deserves."

U.S. president Donald Trump and Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg were among the big-name speakers at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Tuesday, drawing much media attention and coverage. 

Trump during his appearance at the event in the Swiss Alps touted how the U.S. economy has been doing, calling America’s economic turnaround “nothing short of spectacular.” He addressed the event hours before his historic impeachment trial was to reconvene in the U.S. Senate in Washington.

Trump reminded the audience that when he spoke here two years ago, early in his presidency, “I told you that we had launched the great American comeback." He added: “Today I’m proud to declare the United States is in the midst of an economic boom the likes of which the world has never seen before. ... We have regained our stride … and reawakened the powerful spirit of American enterprise. We are flourishing and winning like never before.”

Trump’s participation in the annual gathering of political and business elites in the Alpine ski resort will provide a conspicuous split-screen moment in a presidency rife with them. The two-day Swiss visit will test Trump’s ability to balance his anger over being impeached with his desire to project leadership on the world stage.

Speculation had mounted that Trump would cancel the trip due to the Senate trial, but aides said he remains focused on producing results for the American people.

Climate issues were to be a main theme at the forum, and "Act on Climate" was written in the snow at the landing zone where Trump’s Marine One helicopter set down in Davos.

Trump mentioned climate change in passing during his Davos appearance, saying he was a "big believer in the environment" who wants the "cleanest water and the cleanest air."

Also on Tuesday, Thunberg told the World Economic Forum in a panel discussion that its attendees were not doing enough to deal with the climate emergency and warned them that time was running out.

At a panel, the 17-year-old said: “We need to start listening to the science and treat this crisis with the importance it deserves." She added: "Without treating it as a real crisis, we cannot solve it."

The Swedish teenager was named Time magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year. Said Thunberg to the Davos crowd: “It feels like the climate and environment is a hot topic now, thanks to young people pushing.”