“But to embrace the possibilities of tomorrow, we must reject the perennial profits of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse. They are the heirs of yesterday’s foolish fortune tellers. I have them, you have them, we all have them and they want to see us do badly but we don’t let that happen.
“These alarmists always demand the same thing: absolute power to dominate, transform and control every aspect of our lives. We will never let radical socialists destroy our economy, wreck our country or eradicate our liberty.”
“In America, we understand what the pessimists refuse to see: that a growing and vibrant market economy focused on the future lifts the human spirit and excites creativity strong enough to overcome any challenge.”
Trump’s speech at the Swiss ski resort of Davos contained little of the criticism he levelled at China and other countries during his last address in 2018. Some European leaders had been bracing for the President to turn his sights on the continent following skirmishes over French plans to impose a tax on American digital giants and punitive US tariffs on EU exports.
But he did challenge Europe’s globalist leanings, arguing America’s economic boom proved nationalism provided better opportunities for the working class.
“A nation’s highest duty is to its own citizens,” Trump said.”Honouring this truth is the only way to build faith and confidence in the market system.
“Only when governments put their own citizens first will people be fully invested in their national futures.”
As Trump spoke in Davos, Democrats were preparing to begin the first day of the President’s impeachment trial in the US Senate.
The President, who will use the strong American economy as a platform for seeking a second term at presidential elections in November, claimed his country was “in an economic boom the likes of which the world has never seen before”.
Climate change is a dominant theme at the Davos forum and the US is under particular scrutiny given its impending withdrawal from the Paris climate accord.
Trump’s criticism of “predictions of the apocalypse” appeared to be a swipe at Thunberg, the young Swedish climate activist who headlined a section of the summit titled, ‘Averting a climate apocalypse’.
Trump talked up America’s green credentials and pledged to join a global initiative to plant one trillion trees.
“We are committed to conserving the majesty of God’s creation,” he said.
Thunberg said the world was not moving fast enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“Planting trees is good, of course, but it’s nowhere near enough of what needs to be done, and it cannot replace real mitigation or rewilding nature,” she said.
“From a sustainability perspective, the right, the left as well as the centre have all failed. No political ideology or economic structure has been able to tackle the climate and environmental emergency and create a cohesive and sustainable world. Because, in case you haven’t noticed, that world is currently on fire.”
The Morrison government also defended its climate change policies at the summit amid growing international interest in the fallout from the summer bushfire disaster.
In a session on the sidelines of the forum, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann stressed the government believed in climate change.
“We also understand the only way that it will be addressed effectively is through a global response, and if we had a mature conversation about this we wouldn’t be doing constant finger-pointing, we would actually be looking at how each country can best contribute given the natural attributes each country has to contribute to a global solution,” he said.
Top Brazilian scientist Carlos Afonso Nobre told the panel discussion that the size and severity of the disaster had been influenced by climate change and warned Australia would have to embark on “the largest forrest restoration project in the world”.
Bevan Shields is the Europe correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.