Backatcha: Thunberg returns Trump's climate jibe

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Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg takes her seat prior to the opening session of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. The 50th annual meeting of the forum will take place in Davos from Jan. 20 until Jan. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

DAVOS – Greta Thunberg isn't easily intimidated.

The 17-year-old Swedish activist wasted little time on Tuesday to push back against U.S. President Donald Trump's description of climate campaigners as “the perennial prophets of doom" who predict the "apocalypse.”

Though Trump didn't mention her directly in his speech at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss Alpine resort of Davos, it was clear he had his sights on Thunberg, who shot to fame a year ago by staging a regular strike at her school and sparked a global environmental movement. She then beat the U.S. president to receive Time Magazine's award as the 2019 Person of the Year.

“The facts are clear, but they are still too uncomfortable for you to address,” she told business and political leaders in Davos just after Trump's speech, also without directly mentioning the president. “You just leave it because you think it's too depressing and people will give up, but people will not give up. You are the ones who are giving up.”

Thunberg brushed aside Trump's announcement that the U.S. would join the economic forum's initiative to plant 1 trillion trees across the globe to help capture carbon dioxide from the Earth’s atmosphere.

“Planting trees is good of course but it’s nowhere near enough," Thunberg said. "It cannot replace mitigation," she added, referring to efforts to drastically cut emissions in the near term.

Thunberg accused leaders of "cheating and fiddling around with numbers" with talk of cutting emissions to 'net zero' - that is, emitting no more carbon than is absorbed by the planet or technical means - by 2050.

She and Trump have been sparring for months, but Thunberg did not seek to upstage the U.S. leader by walking out of his speech, which was largely focused on trade and economics instead of the climate issues that the WEF has made a focus of at its meeting this year.