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Trump and Thunberg star as Davos debates climate change

Teenage campaigner Greta Thunberg and U.S. President Donald Trump will take top billing at a Davos meeting this week dominated by climate change.

The last time Thunberg locked eyes on Trump — at the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September — her disapproving scowl went round the world.

The two will appear at separate events within an hour of each other in Davos but the forum’s many corridors and meeting rooms may mean they do not cross paths.

The World Economic Forum (WEF), which organises the event, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year with the slogan “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World”, but the issue of climate change is dominating pre-summit conversations. 

The WEF is calling on all companies attending Davos to commit to a net zero carbon emissions target by 2050 and on its official programme are numerous climate change panels with titles such as “Averting a Climate Apocalypse” — which Thunberg is set to open.

Summit founder Klaus Schwab told Reuters in an interview on Sunday (January 19) that he was optimistic for the week, despite the fact that the highest profile speaker is Trump, who in November filed paperwork to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement.

“We will see what he (Trump) will tell us here, of course. We are looking very much forward because this is a global conference. We are putting a lot of emphasis on dealing with global issues. And climate is the key global issue at this moment,” Scwab said.

Thunberg is just one of a number of “teenage change makers” who will be given a platform at the summit.

For Schwab, 50 years on, it has not lost its relevance.

“Those who are here know it’s a place where you really can talk to the leaders of governments, business and so on, and you’ll find good open ears to listen to you and to act together with you,” he said.

(Production: Fedja Grulovic, Johnny Cotton)

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