Gore Calls on U.S., China to Act on CO2 in Nobel Prize Speech

December 11, 2007

Nobel Laureate Al Gore accepted the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo Monday night Dec. 10 with a direct appeal to the U.S. and China to take action to curb greenhouse gas emissions, notably CO2.

R. K. Pachauri, the Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC – www.ipcc.ch), who received the award jointly with Gore, stressed the interdependence of all of the world’s countries and peoples. He indicated that a failure to address the warmer temperatures would initially have a severe impact on the world’s poorest people.

While Pachauri concentrated on the formidable accomplishments the IPCC has achieved in finding the evidence and framing the debate on climate change, Gore emphasized the need for action. “We, the human species, are confronting a planetary emergency – a threat to the survival of our civilization that is gathering ominous and destructive potential even as we gather here,” he stated.

His remarks, however, were not all gloom and doom. “There is hopeful news as well: we have the ability to solve this crisis and avoid the worst – though not all – of its consequences, if we act boldly, decisively and quickly,” he told his audience. However, he castigated many of the world’s leaders for dithering, or quoting Winston Churchill, those who have simply “decided only to be undecided.”

He pointed out that “70 million tons of global-warming pollution” is dumped “into the thin shell of atmosphere surrounding our planet” every day. As a result water supplies are drying up, even as melting ice caps threaten to raise sea levels to the point that low lying areas may be inundated. These impacts and other are of direct concern to the insurance industry

The solution Gore supports would begin with efforts to reduce the pollutants. “We need to put a price on carbon — with a CO2 tax that is then rebated back to the people, progressively, according to the laws of each nation, in ways that shift the burden of taxation from employment to pollution,” he stated. “This is by far the most effective and simplest way to accelerate solutions to this crisis.”

After praising Europe and Japan for their efforts to move in that direction, Gore turned his attention to the U.S. and China. While all nations are important, “the outcome will be decisively influenced by two nations that are now failing to do enough: the United States and China,” he said. “While India is also growing fast in importance, it should be absolutely clear that it is the two largest CO2 emitters – most of all, my own country — that will need to make the boldest moves, or stand accountable before history for their failure to act.”

Those are strong words, and will no doubt bring cries of outrage from those who continue to deny that climate change is a fact of life that must be dealt with. Gore’s high profile role as the messenger, along with the significant presence of the UN, has given those who dislike and mistrust either or both a platform to assail their views. Unfortunately in their zeal to demonize the messengers, they continue to refuse to pay attention to the message.

This doesn’t seem to bother Gore too much. He remains confident that the majority of the world’s people, and eventually their respective governments, will realize that they must act to protect the earth’s environment for future generations. “We have everything we need to get started,” Gore concluded, “save perhaps political will, but political will is a renewable resource.”

The full text of both speeches may be obtained on the Nobel Prize Committee’s web site at: http://nobelpeaceprize.org/eng_lec_lau.html.

Source: Nobel Peace Prize Committee

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