Donald Trump has used his speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos to assail environmental “alarmists” and economic “pessimists”, striking a defiant tone at an event dominated by concern over the threats of climate change and economic slowdown.
The US president devoted much of his speech to an argument that he had turned a stagnant US economy into “a roaring geyser of opportunity”, focusing on a pocketbook message to US voters hours before his impeachment trial is due to begin and months before he faces a re-election battle.
He became most animated, however, in saying that delegates should “reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of apocalypse.” Those present interpreted his remarks as a veiled attack on the environmental activists such as Greta Thunberg who have used the event to argue that governments and business leaders are doing too little to avoid irreversible climate change.
Earlier in the day Ms Thunberg told Davos attendees that “pretty much nothing has been done, since the global emissions of CO2 have not reduced”.
But Mr Trump said: “This is not a time for pessimism, this is a time for optimism.”
His remarks came hours before his impeachment trial is due to begin in the US Senate on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, but he made little reference to the proceedings.
Instead, he hailed the strength of the US economy and his recent trade agreements with China, Canada and Mexico.
Despite reiterating his criticism of the Federal Reserve, saying it had “raised rates too fast and lowered them too slowly”, Mr Trump said the US was “in the midst of an economic boom, the likes of which the world has never seen before.”
The US had pioneered “a new model of trade for the 21st century,” he argued. Phase two of its trade negotiations with China would begin “very shortly”, he said, and “our relationship with China right now has probably never been better.”
The US president hailed his relationship with China’s Xi Jinping as “extraordinary”, saying: “He’s for China, I’m for US but other than that we love each other.”
He also had warm words for Boris Johnson, saying the UK’s “wonderful new prime minister wants very much to make a deal, as they say.”