Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin dismissed warnings from teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg to divest from fossil fuels on Thursday, saying she should study economics in college before lecturing the U.S. on policy.
Mnuchin responded critically to a question about whether the U.S., as the world’s largest economy, should completely and immediately divest from fossil fuels, a step Thunberg warned was necessary to combat detrimental climate change.
“Is she the chief economist or who is she? I’m confused,” Mnuchin quipped at a press conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
He added that he was making “a joke. That was funny.”
“After she goes and studies growth and economics in college she can come back and explain that to us,” the Treasury Secretary said of the young Swedish activist.
Thunberg spoke at the forum on Tuesday and demanded that all investment in fossil fuels end immediately.
“We want this done now,” she told the gathering of political and business leaders. “Our house is still on fire. Your inaction is fueling the flames by the hour, and we are telling you to act as if you loved your children above all else.”
Thunberg made headlines earlier this year when she delivered an emotional speech at the 2019 United Nations climate action summit in New York on behalf of children around the world who are concerned about the future of the planet’s climate, telling world leaders, “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.”
President Trump also spoke at the forum and urged his audience to ignore the “prophets of doom and their predictions of apocalypse” regarding climate change. However, he also committed the U.S. to the World Economic Forum’s One Trillion Trees program, which pledges to plant or save a trillion trees.