Greta Thunberg appeared to give the president an icy look at the U.N. Climate Action Summit

By Rachel DeSantis
September 27, 2019 12:55 PM
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It was a stare down seen around the world when teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg shot President Donald Trump an apparent icy glare at the U.N. Climate Action Summit.

But the Swedish 16-year-old says the viral moment was based more in shock than anything else, as the president’s appearance at the summit in New York on Monday was unscheduled.

“I was stopped because suddenly he came in and security went, ‘You have to step to the side.’ And I just wondered what was going on,” Thunberg told the Scandinavian talk show Skavlan. “And then he showed up. I think I was very shocked.”

Trump’s appearance came shortly before Thunberg took the podium to blast world leaders for showing more interest in making money than in saving the planet by reducing carbon emissions.

Greta Thunberg, Donald Trump
TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty; Win McNamee/Getty

“People are suffering. People are dying,” she said in a fiery speech. “Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”

She later cited 30 years’ worth of “crystal clear” science, and told the global leaders, “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.”

Trump, who has repeatedly dismissed climate change and falsely claimed it was a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese, took notice of Thunberg’s speech, and retweeted a video of her speaking, adding on an apparently sarcastic message.

“She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!” he wrote.

During her interview with Skavlan, Thunberg said she interpreted Trump’s words as sarcastic, but said that “of course” he would write something like that.

“I mean, you can interpret it in many different ways,” she said of his tweet. “But I mean, I knew that sometime he was probably going to say something about me. It was like, it doesn’t make any difference, in a way.”

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Thunberg previously sent a message to the president that his words had little effect on her when she briefly changed her Twitter bio to reflect his tweet.

“A very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future,” it read, according to screenshots, though she has since changed it once again.

Thunberg, who was nominated for a 2019 Nobel Peace Prize in March, led the largest climate strike of all time last week, and previously testified before members of Congress, urging them to “listen to the scientists” in order to keep the world from overheating to the point where the planet becomes uninhabitable, The New York Times reports.