The comments happened during a press conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where some of the world’s most important economic players have gathered this week. Thunberg has been driving a conversation about climate change and sustainability throughout the week, and criticized nations like the United States for doing “basically nothing” to reduce their emissions.
A reporter asked Mnuchin about Thunberg saying there should be a public and private sector divestment from fossil fuel companies responsible for greenhouse gas emissions.
“Is she the chief economist, or who is she? I’m confused,” Mnuchin replied. “It’s a joke. After she goes and studies economics in college she can come back and explain that to us.”
Thunberg wasted no time responding to Mnuchin, taking to Twitter shortly after his comments.
“My gap year ends in August, but it doesn’t take a college degree in economics to realise that our remaining 1,5° carbon budget and ongoing fossil fuel subsidies and investments don’t add up,” she tweeted. “So either you tell us how to achieve this mitigation or explain to future generations and those already affected by the climate emergency why we should abandon our climate commitments.”
My gap year ends in August, but it doesn’t take a college degree in economics to realise that our remaining 1,5° carbon budget and ongoing fossil fuel subsidies and investments don’t add up. 1/3 pic.twitter.com/1virpuOyYG— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) January 23, 2020
Thunberg also received some support from U.S. politicians, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). She chimed in to note that she did, in fact, have an economics degree, but people mocked it as being “illegitimate.”
If you don’t have an economics degree like Greta, they’ll mock you for not having one.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 23, 2020
If you DO have one, as I do, they’ll claim it’s illegitimate.
Haters gonna hate & deniers will deny. They will deny logic, science, and environmental consensus in order to protect oligarchy. https://t.co/6b0S40MQk2
It’s not the first time Thunberg and the Trump administration have had a public back and forth.
Trump has mocked her as having “anger management issues” and sarcastically noted that she was a “very happy young girl” after the activist excoriated world leaders for not doing more to address climate change. In turn, Thunberg replied by changing her Twitter bio to quotes Trump has made about her.
Throughout the economic forum in Davos, President Donald Trump has avoided naming Thunberg, though he did field a question about her during a press conference. A reporter asked about her criticism of the Trump administration and the president responded by noting “she beat me out on Time magazine.” Thunberg was named TIME’s person of the year in December.