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Turning Back on Climate Summit, Trump Hosts 'Religious Freedom' Session at UN

"It's most importantly a snub to the young people pleading for action on climate change."

President Donald Trump attends a United Nations event on Religious Freedom at U.N. Headquarters in New York, September 23, 2019

President Donald Trump attends a United Nations event on Religious Freedom at U.N. Headquarters in New York, September 23, 2019, on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

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:

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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.

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