January 28th, 2009
10:45 AM ET
8 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. Tesa P; Savannah, GA

    Maybe we can get some things done, now that we have a President who believes that global warming is actually happening.

    January 28, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  2. Billie Amerson

    Why, you fools, there is no climate crisis; this is made up stuff for political purposes. If God were to change our climate, don't be foolish enough to think that mankind can fix anything. If our climate changes, we will adapt or die off, that's all. Almighty God knows what his humans on this earth need and He will take care of us; He has said He would.

    January 28, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  3. Jim

    Yes, vote to spend billions to combat climate change. Gore needs to make more money off of it!!! He has already made hundreds of millions, but hey, those big luxury boats like his cost a lot to operate.

    January 28, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  4. naqib

    LOL.... look out a window Al.

    This guy is making millions on fear monGOREing... ha ha...

    Maybe he could step up by selling some of his dozen cars... houses and private plans... what a tool.

    January 28, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  5. norman

    Al Gore needs to get with it. The new game is bailouts. His Carbon Credit Scam just didn`t get off the ground. What gets the sucker`s attention is free money. Get a bailout and solve your credit problems. The ads are already on tv with 800 numbers. I`m going to call now! All I want is 50 large. What`s that when we are trying to revive the American dream? Come on, it`s not like I`m asking for a Learjet.

    January 28, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  6. southerncousin

    The sky is falling kill all the livestock. This guy has got to be a member of the Baider-Meinhoff gang from the 70's. Perhaps he should contribute the funding received from his phony Nobel prize and sell his communist Oscar to help stimulate the economy. Selling his own country down the road to prop up tin horn dictators is treason.

    January 28, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  7. brad

    Amen. I don't care if people think this guy is chicken little. Alarmist. If you don't see the changes outside your window, you are blind. Change in lifestyle hurt but think how more hurt the future generation will be.

    January 28, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  8. Tony

    Lobby!? That's a no-no in Obama-land.

    How 'bout some pork instead?

    January 28, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  9. dave

    Gore doesn't get it. If we stop borrowing money from China we stop supporting a cheap source of labor, making it more difficult to ship our manufacturing jobs overseas. And if we stop enriching nations that dedicate resources to military action against us, we would face a crisis of not having to spend as much money on our own military. And that's what America is about: the people rich enough to move factories overseas and build lots of weapons. If we start looking out for the common man we might as well have lost to the communists.

    January 28, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  10. jbw

    In a word: "HOAX"

    January 28, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  11. No Money

    After Gore made his case in front of the congress, I expect Sarah palin to make her case as well. After all we are in democracy right.

    January 28, 2009 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  12. Mike

    Al Gore.. please come live here in North dakota for the next 3 months and then you can talk about global "Warming"

    January 28, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  13. You Got Change...Now What?

    I see that the far left is already out pushing their agenda.

    January 28, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  14. Curtis

    I thought the new regime was all about the science now. Gore is no scientist and most of what he quotes falls under the junk science category. Once again, democrats believe anything as along as it fits with their politics...reality be damned.

    January 28, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  15. Steve Norsworthy

    Gosh I wish I was as smart as 'mister look at me' all the time!!!!

    January 28, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  16. Jason Bremerton, Wa

    I'm sorry but this is a joke. Across the country we are experiencing record cold. In Washington state we've have to of the coolest "norms" for summer and winter the last 2 – 3 years. The average temperature in the US dropped 1.5 degrees over the last year as well. There might be climate change but it's a change towards cooling.

    January 28, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  17. ???

    What a farce!!!

    January 28, 2009 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  18. Dont blame me

    If we could just get rid of all that HOT AIR coming out of Washington, then Global Warming wouldn't be an issue!!!!

    The interesting thing is that in December of '08 over 650 climate scientists stated that the earth has started a 'COOL DOWN' period that will last for the next 30 – 40 years, due to the sun's hign 'sun spot' activity cycle tapering down to a low activity period. And this coicides with our RECORD LOW temperatures that are being recorded this year.

    In other words, we are now headed for GLOBAL COOLING.

    Al Gore is just trying to make more millions of dollars with his scare tactics.

    January 28, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  19. barbara campbell

    Let's hope the rich and powerful oil industry can't shut down this important work on climate change.

    Even though the oil men have left the White House, there are still plenty of politicians who are happy to do Exxon's bidding, as long as they get something out of it.

    As just one example, on the same day that Sarah Palin gave the go-ahead for Exxon to do more drilling in Alaska, she established a PAC to fund her national political ambitions.

    January 28, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  20. Kristen

    I believe that it is about time that we, as an American people, stand up to the threat of climate crisis. We hold a responsibility to the environment, and must embrace our current leadership's attempt to advance the move to environmentally friendly living. The statements made by Al Gore are potent examples of the necessity of our Congress's full cooperation.

    January 28, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  21. Greg

    Hey man! He invented the internet!

    January 28, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  22. David

    Al Gore is a fear monger. How long has he been saying the world is about to die?

    January 28, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  23. Martha

    I believe the earth goes thru climate changes and will continue to do so. Due to sunspots, volcanoes and other natural elements, man can do nothing to change or effect this. So, Gore, please find another job and quit making a living on this.

    January 28, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  24. Andreas

    Jim, just because your mind operates on 'what is in it for me....' does not mean everybody else s does. What a selfish greedy person you are!

    January 28, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  25. deb

    It amazes me how many people still have their heads in the sand about this issue! Thank God we have a democrat in the White House who actually has a brain! Global warming is a FACT, people! WAKE UP!

    January 28, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
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