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Former Vice President Gore Delivers Strong Message on Need for U.S., Global Climate Action

By Lina Garcia
November 19, 2007

At the opening luncheon of the Mayors Climate Protection Summit, former Vice President and Nobelaureate Al Gore joined conference participants via satellite, commending the one hundred mayors in attendance for their leadership on climate protection and applauding their individual efforts in cities to reduce the nation’s energy dependence.

Acknowledging the efforts of more than 700 mayors who have signed The U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, he called these commitments a “rallying cry and moment of uplift” during his conversations with foreign leaders who inquire about efforts made by the United States to meet the requirements of the Kyoto protocol. He explains that U.S. efforts are occurring at the local level, while the federal government has remained absent.

Gore especially recognized Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, the Summit’s host mayor, for his early leadership in bringing U.S. mayors together to confront the growing challenges of climate change.

In a strong and philosophical tone, the former Vice President overemphasized the monumental responsibility that elected leaders now carry to save the future of the planet, for the sake of our nation’s youth. “This is a moral issue and a spiritual issue and we owe it to our future generations to reverse the damage that has been done.”

Gore talked about the need to establish new international laws and treaties that he described as “rules of the road” to decrease what is now a planetary emergency. With upcoming plans to travel to Bali for an international convening on climate protection, Gore described the future talks as a strong potential towards making progress and has also met with French and German world leaders. He also mentioned meeting with leaders in Asia and Latin America who are all on board towards reaching and supporting an international agreement on the reduction of global warming.

According to the Nobelaureate winner, scientists have recently announced that the polar ice cap has melted more than ever before, based on information from previously recorded documents. Experts claim that if the melting continues at this rate, there will be a complete disappearance of the polar ice cap within the next 22 years. “We should be hearing alarm bells all over the world and stop the 70 million tons of carbon that we are releasing on our planet,” Gore said. “We have to create a shift in our way of thinking and in our consciousness.” He described the shift in human behavior that needs to occur, similar to what occurred with the World War II generation when the Marshall Plan was created, which lead to European countries now viewing war as an absurdity.

“We need to bring about similar change instead of thinking of the planet as an open sewer, and making our planet more vulnerable to all the things that scientists have warned us about. We need to instead focus on all the positive things that change will bring including better mass transit systems that will make life more enjoyable, lowering the cost of our utility bills and all the new jobs that green and renewable energy and technologies will bring to the U.S. Our nation should be leading this new technology development movement. But in order to do that we need to lay the policy foundation and we have to cross party lines and need a grassroots movement where cities coalesce their local efforts and are joined with support from our state and nation’s laws,” he said.

Gore emphasized the need to accelerate world negotiations and a new treaty by 2009 to be ratified by 2010, replacing the Kyoto Protocol and including the support from China and the United States. Before proceeding to a question and answer session with mayors, the former Vice President ended his remarks by quoting an old African proverb, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.”