President Donald Trump on Monday affirmed his stance as a climate villain by leading a United Nations session on "religious freedom" instead of a major event focused on the global climate crisis in the same building.
The president's move drew scorn on Twitter:
Trump is skipping the UN’s Climate Change Summit to host a panel on “religious persecution.” Those who believe the natural world is God’s gift might wonder at his collusion with those who destroy it. Does this incandescent ego believe “Better to reign in Hell”?— csdickey (@csdickey) September 23, 2019
Instead of attending discussions on a climate crisis he doesn't believe in, the president who paid hush money to a porn star he had an affair with while his third wife nursed his fifth child will hold a session on....religious persecution https://t.co/PW6YkZj3SR— Robert Maguire (@RobertMaguire_) September 23, 2019
There's a lot of talk about President Trump's support for religious freedom at this United Nations event, and no acknowledgement that he once proposed banning Muslims from entering the United States.— Chris Megerian (@ChrisMegerian) September 23, 2019
Trump's session overlaps with the day-long U.N. Climate Action Summit. Trump's special session began at 11:30 am, shortly after Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg gave a powerful speech at the summit demanding world leaders take swift action to tackle the climate crisis.
Trump's event, a senior administration official said Friday, "seeks to highlight and broaden international support for protecting religious freedom in the wake of increasing persecution of people on the basis of their own beliefs and faiths, and a growing number of attacks on and destruction of houses of worship, religious sites, and relics by state and nonstate actors." The president did, however, pop in to the climate event. "President Donald Trump was not scheduled to attend," ABC News reported, "but showed up unexpectedly Monday morning."
But David Waskow, director of the International Climate Initiative at the World Resources Institute, said Trump's event hightlight something different.
"It's most importantly a snub to the young people pleading for action on climate change," Waskow told The Guardian. "Donald Trump has made very clear internationally and domestically he has no interest in the science or this issue. It's up to the rest of the world to get on with its business."
The Trump adminstration has also been accused of using the banner of "religious freedom" to carry out discriminatory attacks on healthcare, children's right to loving homes, and educational options for all students.