January 28th, 2009
10:45 AM ET
7 months ago

Gore to lobby lawmakers on climate change

 Al Gore speaks before a U.N. convention on climate change last December in Poznan, Poland.
Al Gore speaks before a U.N. convention on climate change last December in Poznan, Poland.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Suggesting the planet will soon reach an irreversible "tipping point" of damage to the climate, former Vice President Al Gore plans to tell members of Congress on Wednesday that the U.S. needs to join international talks on a treaty.

"This treaty must be negotiated this year," he plans to say, according to a copy of remarks prepared for testimony.

Gore is scheduled to appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He plans to link the nation's energy situation with the need to develop fuels that are not based on petroleum.

"We're borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet," Gore plans to say. "Every bit of that's got to change."

Read Gore's full prepared remarks after the jump

Statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee As Prepared Hon. Al Gore Wednesday, January 28, 2009

We are here today to talk about how we as Americans and how the United States of America as part of the global community should address the dangerous and growing threat of the climate crisis.

We have arrived at a moment of decision. Our home – Earth – is in grave danger. What is at risk of being destroyed is not the planet itself, of course, but the conditions that have made it hospitable for human beings.

Moreover, we must face up to this urgent and unprecedented threat to the existence of our civilization at a time when our country must simultaneously solve two other worsening crises. Our economy is in its deepest recession since the 1930s. And our national security is endangered by a vicious terrorist network and the complex challenge of ending the war in Iraq honorably while winning the military and political struggle in Afghanistan.

As we search for solutions to all three of these challenges, it is becoming clearer that they are linked by a common thread – our dangerous over-reliance on carbon-based fuels.

As long as we continue to send hundreds of billions of dollars for foreign oil – year after year – to the most dangerous and unstable regions of the world, our national security will continue to be at risk.

As long as we continue to allow our economy to remain shackled to the OPEC roller- coaster of rising and falling oil prices, our jobs and our way of life will remain at risk.
Moreover, as the demand for oil worldwide grows rapidly over the longer term, even as the rate of new discoveries is falling, it is increasingly obvious that the roller coaster is headed for a crash. And we’re in the front car.

Most importantly, as long as we continue to depend on dirty fossil fuels like coal and oil to meet our energy needs, and dump 70 million tons of global warming pollution into the thin shell of atmosphere surrounding our planet, we move closer and closer to several dangerous tipping points which scientists have repeatedly warned – again just yesterday – will threaten to make it impossible for us to avoid irretrievable destruction of the conditions that make human civilization possible on this planet.

We're borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet. Every bit of that’s got to change.

For years our efforts to address the growing climate crisis have been undermined by the idea that we must choose between our planet and our way of life; between our moral duty and our economic well being. These are false choices. In fact, the solutions to the climate crisis are the very same solutions that will address our economic and national security crises as well.

In order to repower our economy, restore American economic and moral leadership in the world and regain control of our destiny, we must take bold action now.

The first step is already before us. I urge this Congress to quickly pass the entirety of President Obama’s Recovery package. The plan’s unprecedented and critical investments in four key areas – energy efficiency, renewables, a unified national energy grid and the move to clean cars – represent an important down payment and are long overdue. These crucial investments will create millions of new jobs and hasten our economic recovery – while strengthening our national security and beginning to solve the climate crisis.

Quickly building our capacity to generate clean electricity will lay the groundwork for the next major step needed: placing a price on carbon. If Congress acts right away to pass President Obama's Recovery package and then takes decisive action this year to institute a cap-and-trade system for CO2 emissions – as many of our states and many other countries have already done – the United States will regain its credibility and enter the Copenhagen treaty talks with a renewed authority to lead the world in shaping a fair and
effective treaty. And this treaty must be negotiated this year.

Not next year. This year.

A fair, effective and balanced treaty will put in place the global architecture that will place the world – at long last and in the nick of time – on a path toward solving the climate crisis and securing the future of human civilization.

I am hopeful that this can be achieved. Let me outline for you the basis for the hope and optimism that I feel.

The Obama Administration has already signaled a strong willingness to regain U.S.
leadership on the global stage in the treaty talks, reversing years of inaction. This is critical to success in Copenhagen and is clearly a top priority of the administration.

Developing countries that were once reluctant to join in the first phases of a global response to the climate crisis have themselves now become leaders in demanding action and in taking bold steps on their own initiatives. Brazil has proposed an impressive new plan to halt the destructive deforestation in that nation. Indonesia has emerged as a new constructive force in the talks. And China’s leaders have gained a strong understanding of the need for action and have already begun important new initiatives.

Heads of state from around the world have begun to personally engage on this issue and forward-thinking corporate leaders have made this a top priority.

More and more Americans are paying attention to the new evidence and fresh warnings from scientists. There is a much broader consensus on the need for action than there was

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when President George H.W. Bush negotiated – and the Senate ratified – the Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992 and much stronger support for action than when we completed the Kyoto Protocol in 1997.

The elements that I believe are key to a successful agreement in Copenhagen include:

• Strong targets and timetables from industrialized countries and differentiated but binding commitments from developing countries that put the entire world under a system with one commitment: to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other global warming pollutants that cause the climate crisis;

• The inclusion of deforestation, which alone accounts for twenty percent of the emissions that cause global warming;

• The addition of sinks including those from soils, principally from farmlands and grazing lands with appropriate methodologies and accounting. Farmers and ranchers in the U.S. and around the world need to know that they can be part of the solution;

• The assurance that developing countries will have access to mechanisms and resources that will help them adapt to the worst impacts of the climate crisis and technologies to solve the problem; and,

• A strong compliance and verification regime.

The road to Copenhagen is not easy, but we have traversed this ground before. We have negotiated the Montreal Protocol, a treaty to protect the ozone layer, and strengthened it to the point where we have banned most of the major substances that create the ozone hole over Antarctica. And we did it with bipartisan support. President Ronald Reagan and Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill joined hands to lead the way.

Let me now briefly discuss in more detail why we must do all of this within the next year, and with your permission Mr. Chairman, I would like to show a few new pictures that illustrate the unprecedented need for bold and speedy action this year.

Thank you Mr. Chairman. I am eager to respond to any questions that you and the members of the committee have.


Filed under: Al Gore
soundoff (246 Responses)
  1. Enough

    Who cares if our grandkids will never see a polar bear!! Polar bears suck anyway. Where's my hummer!! I listened to Faux News and now I think I'm a scientist!!

    January 28, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  2. BennyandtheJets

    Apparently the yaxcht, mansion and private jet aren't enough for Gore, he might need a vacation home. After he collects his tithes and buys it, maybe he'll be finally satisfied enough with all his new toys to declare that"he finally beat global warming"., just like when he created the internet.

    January 28, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  3. warmachine

    Al Gore is a hypocritical dolt......and Billie Amerson....sorry.... but references to verses in the bible are not crushing rejoinders in a rational debate.

    January 28, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  4. Crush Rush

    Big oil and gas pay millions to people that can make Gore go away.He hurts their lying bottom line and all that work for the low lifes.

    January 28, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  5. Steve S.

    CO2 is not a pollutant and has been pointed out, the negligible amount of CO2 output by humans is insignificant. Anthropogenic global warming is nothing but a hoax to gain wealth and political power. Biggest scam that has ever been perpetrated. Follow the money, including grants and taxes to fight a nonexistent problem.

    January 28, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  6. Rick

    It's simple. Few people stand to financially benefit more than Al Gore from redirecting society's resources via his investment company. With regards to science, Al Gore is just as conflicted and self-interested as oil companies. He is not a scientifically objective (or expert) voice. It's hard to make good investments producing goods people want. It's a lot easier to use influence to muscle income from the government.

    January 28, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  7. Matt

    It's funny to hear GOPers claim that this is all a hoax to get votes and money. What do you call the GOP's yearly promises to do away with abortion? Yeah. Thought so. It's legal and the Supreme Court said so...they have no intention of getting it banned and couldn't if they wanted to....they just blow smoke about it because there are a ton of one-issue voters out there who will believe it.

    January 28, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  8. JAC

    The Russian magazine PRAVDA just came out a week age and said we are heading towards and ice age.

    Hey Gore, Tennessee called, they want their idiot back.

    January 28, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  9. Brent

    "the complex challenge of ending the war in Iraq honorably while winning the military and political struggle in Afghanistan"

    What?!?! Why can't we win in Iraq? Why is it always about simply ending the war? If we can win in Afghanistan, why can't we win in Iraq?

    Truth is, we are winning. He won't admit it because it doesn't fit into his template.

    January 28, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  10. Scott

    James: Cite sources please. Preferably credible ones.

    January 28, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  11. vic cape coral fl

    I wonder how many carbon credits he is selling in China. Just remember they had to shut down all the industry for 3 weeks just so the athletes could breath. Dont forget its only the evil americans polluting the planet

    January 28, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  12. INDIAN DANCER

    The Native Americans did rain dances to change the weather.

    Gore wants you to give the Gov't money so Pelosi can change the weather.

    Liberal politics hasn't evolved in centuries.

    January 28, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  13. Buck Rogers

    Al and Tipper – go back to cleaning up recorded music. Take on Rap and Hip-Hop and leave the rest of us alone.

    January 28, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  14. Florida Native

    Are you people stupid who DON'T BELIEVE in global warming? Or are you getting paid to post these remarks against the global warming as a REAL PROBLEM, LIKE IT IS. What's your IQ?

    You want facts? Look at the polar ice caps you nit wits! Look at the weather! You want "facts", then get off your lazy butts, instead of blaming Gore and do some research!

    It's much easier for you to sit back and BLAME Gore, than to take some RESPONSIBILTY for the earth that we're handing to our kids, grandkids, etc.....

    Sheer Laziness + Low IQ = Planet in Peril

    January 28, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  15. JohnFLob Angier NC

    How does buying a carbon credit reduce my footprint? If the seller was not generating any 'carbon' in the first place why/ how can a piece of paper remove any carbon I generate from the atmosphere? Even if the seller generates less carbon than was allocated by some governmental agency that piece of paper still does not remove my carbon from the atmosphere.

    What is the combined carbon foot print of all the personnel, manufacturing processes to produce the paper for 'credit', generating the 'credit', then sending it to me?

    January 28, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  16. Riteaidbob

    For the love of GOD someone shut this imence Liberal gas bag up. "Carbon Credits" LMAO! Yeah AL you just go on with your CO2 pollution and feel great going to be in your HUGE home knowing that you spent $$$$ paying someone else to not pollute (BTW CO2 is not a pollutant). It's a SCAM and a big fat JOKE!

    January 28, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  17. David

    You are correct James. They want no one questioning their science and they seek to quiet those experts that have differed with them (including ones that used to agree with them). fact is the polar ice grew in size the past decade by about the size of Texas. Polar ice isn't melting because of global warming but by the shifting of the poles.

    January 28, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  18. bubbinator

    REF hit it on the head! That's what they are afraid of and want to take guns and ammo from honest citizens. They are liars, cheaters and theives cloaked in the guise of "government". A true bumper stick I saw says "Don't steal-the government can't stand the competition!" We are being ripped off in the name of socialism by idiots, elected by bigger idiots. Socialism doesn't work, communism doesn't work as Hitler, and Russia so well proved. But our liberal-fueled education system, heralded by dumocrats, has failed miserably. Look how it educated our population that we needed Obama. If we survive this mess I just may start going to church-I witnessed a miracle!

    January 28, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  19. Claude Hopper

    The earth is a closed system. The only energy comes from its core and from the sun. All the hydrocarbons were once in the atmosphere. Over the eons, the suns energy combined with flora and fauna to store the solar energy under the earths surface. Now, by using oil and coal (stored solar energy), we are rejuvinating the earth to its earlier status by replacing the orignial atmosopheric carbon content. Thus we are saving the planet by returning it to its earlier condition.

    January 28, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  20. AnnMM

    Are there any more idiotic or cowardly people than those who still refuse to believe in global climate changes? I guarantee you this is the same crowd that built bunkers during the Y2K foolishness and saran wrapped their house everytime the terror alerts hit orange. They'll believe whatever Fox news tells them, ignoring what 98% of all reputable environmental scientists in the world have to say.

    January 28, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
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