While speaking at a press conference in Davos on Thursday, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin responded to a question regarding Greta Thunberg’s recommendation to move away from fossil fuels advising the 17-year-old activist to study economics.
“After she goes and studies economics in college, she can come back and explain that to us”, Mnuchin said while taking questions during the conference at the World Economic Forum (WEF) alongside Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
Mnuchin then jokingly wondered: "Is she the chief economist? Who is she? I'm confused".
His comments come after President Donald Trump lashed out against the "prophets of doom" regarding climate change, saying that eco campaigners were overly pessimistic and should instead concentrate their criticisms on countries that emit more planet-warming greenhouse gas.
Britain's Prince Charles also said at the WEF Wednesday that the global economy and financial markets require a revolutionary restructuring in order to save the planet from the climate crisis.
"If we leave it too long, and we have done, just growing things is going to become difficult".
He urged the conference to commit to a "paradigm shift, one that inspires action at revolutionary levels and pace".
Shifting production away from fossil fuels is a policy that is quickly gaining traction with various countries having declared net-zero carbon targets.
The UK government has set itself a deadline for reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Economic structure has often been the beating heart of the climate question, with the environmental movement identifying the system of competing markets and the utilising of natural resources for profit rather than long-term human need as the root cause of excess emissions and environmental decay.
Critics, however, have accused the movement of using environmental fear-mongering as a means to push anti-capitalist politics.