While President Trump has also taken shots at Thunberg, daughter Ivanka abstained

By Sean Neumann
January 24, 2020 02:17 PM

Class is in session, teenage activist Greta Thunberg warned U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday.

The Swedish climate change activist fired back at Mnuchin for mockingly questioning her educational qualifications to talk about the global economy earlier this week.

“My gap year ends in August, but it doesn’t take a college degree in economics to realize that our remaining 1,5° carbon budget and ongoing fossil fuel subsidies and investments don’t add up,” Thunberg, 17, tweeted.

“So either you tell us how to achieve this mitigation,” she continued, “or explain to future generations and those already affected by the climate emergency why we should abandon our climate commitments.”

Mnuchin had waved off Thunberg’s speech at this week’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where the she called on global leaders to take more steps to better combat global warming.

“Let’s be clear: We don’t need a ‘low-carbon economy,’ we don’t need to ‘lower emissions,’ ” Thunberg said Tuesday. “Our emissions have to stop.”

Her speech received praise and even President Donald Trump‘s daughter Ivanka Trump, a senior White House aide who joined him at the forum this week, reportedly said Thunberg has an “elevated awareness and that’s a positive thing.”

While President Trump, like Mnuchin, has taken shots at Thunberg, Ivanka abstained.

“I’m not going to criticize anyone who’s bringing their energy and voice. That’s not my style. I think she’s elevated awareness, and that’s a positive thing,” she told The New York Times.

Mnuchin, 57, took exception to Thunberg’s recommendations on economic policy and openly challenged her while speaking with reporters on Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

“Is she the chief economist? Who is she? I’m confused,” Mnuchin said. He followed up after a brief pause, saying, “It was a joke.”

“After she goes and studies economics in college, she can come back and explain that to us,” Mnuchin then said.

Greta Thunberg (center) at a climate change rally in New York City in September.
Drew Angerer/Getty

President Trump, 73, himself criticized Thunberg after TIME chose her as the “Person of the Year” in December.

“So ridiculous,” he wrote on Twitter. “Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!”

Thunberg responded with a subtle clap-back, changing her Twitter bio to read: “A teenager working on her anger management problem. Currently chilling and watching a good old fashioned movie with a friend.”

She responded similarly last September when the president tweeted that she “seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future.”

From left: President Donald Trump and Greta Thunberg
Markus Schreiber/AP/Shutterstock; GIAN EHRENZELLER/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

On Tuesday, Trump also seemed to be referencing Thunberg when he rallied against “alarmists [who] always demand the same thing — absolute power to dominate, transform and control every aspect of our lives” and called climate activists “heirs of yesterday’s foolish fortune tellers.”

But Thunberg, who was reportedly in attendance during Trump’s speech, maintained Tuesday that she has no interest in political tiffs.

“This is not about right or left,” she said at the World Economic Forum. “We couldn’t care less about your party politics. From a sustainability perspective, the right, the left as well as the center have all failed. No political ideology or economic structure has been able to tackle the climate and environmental emergency.”