DAVOS, Switzerland — After days of urging political and business leaders from around the world gathered in this Swiss Alpine village to treat climate change with greater urgency, Greta Thunberg ended her whirlwind week in much the same way she began her activism two years ago: joining her peers for a protest.
Speaking at a news conference on Friday before the demonstration, Ms. Thunberg and four other young women sought to shift the spotlight off themselves and onto their motivations.
Asked how she felt about being belittled by senior American leaders, Ms. Thunberg said it had no effect on her.
“If we care about that, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do,” she said.
Ms. Thunberg, 17, became politically active two years ago when she staged a “school strike for climate” in Sweden, inspiring a broader global campaign by children around the world.
Her activism has propelled her onto the global stage, where her unrelenting demands for action from global leaders have resonated with people of all ages who are concerned about the future of the planet.
Her rise has drawn high-profile detractors, most notably President Trump, who have dismissed her concerns about climate change as overblown and sought to portray her as either well-meaning but misguided or simply hysterical.
Without mentioning Ms. Thunberg by name, Mr. Trump criticized the young activist and others during his speech in Davos this week.
“They are the heirs of yesterday’s foolish fortune tellers,” the president said. “They predicted an overpopulation crisis in the 1960s, a mass starvation in the 70s, and an end of oil in the 1990s.”
Speaking shortly after Mr. Trump, Ms. Thunberg took care while in Davos to distance herself from partisan politics.
“This is not about right or left. We couldn’t care less about your party politics,” she said. “From a sustainability perspective, the right, the left as well as the center have all failed.”
There is broad agreement among scientists that emissions must be reduced by half in the next decade to keep temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees from preindustrial levels, which scientists say is necessary to avert the worst effects of climate change.
The opposite is happening. Global emissions have continued to rise, hitting a record in 2019, according to research published in December.
Somini Sengupta reported from Davos, and Marc Santora from London.