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. earle,florida

    Memo to Al, China's been on a enviromental quest for years now,perhaps Al should look in a mirror. This guy irritates the day-light out of me,his books/movie are generic money machines ,and the guy couldn't even win his own state in 2000 which could have given him the presidency! He's lame,and a shame,..

    January 28, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  2. EricBrodin

    Poor Al,

    Does the Earth really love him back?

    PS. The Earth is actually cooling.

    January 28, 2009 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  3. gt

    not this yr al its global freezing ,,, where s my blanket,,, burrrrrrrrrrrrr

    January 28, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  4. Mike, Syracuse NY

    The fact of the matter is that in the last 50,000 years there have been periods of warming more severe than that today. Since these periods preceded industrialization, who the heck caused it? Answer: It's a natural process. Other studies strongly suggest that while humans do make global warming worse, the effect is in the realm of a few percent. Before we spend trillions to copmpletely reconfigure our economy, maybe we should get the facts right first.

    January 28, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  5. Marvin Ensworth

    I wonder if they grilled Algore about how he got to Washington. Did he fly in on his own plane? What carbon footprint did that leave?
    WAKE UP AMERICA!!!

    January 28, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  6. dennisk

    As we are learning that some of the effects of climate change may be irreversible, it becomes more critical than ever to act now. If we render the planet uninhabitable, everything else becomes moot.

    January 28, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  7. DigitalTexan

    Global Warming – Debunked
    Climate Change – Has all ways been true
    Al Gore – A has-been in need of a new cause
    Cap and Trade – Worse than Madoff's last scheme

    January 28, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  8. Ted G

    Tesa P's comment says it all. Obama belives in global warming. Science is not belief. This is nothing more than an extension of the new age Gaia cult mixed with central planning pols.

    January 28, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  9. Diane

    our earth is in grave danger ..yeah .....from New World Order

    January 28, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  10. listen

    gore doesn't pratice what he preaches.

    January 28, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  11. JD

    What a joke. People wake up – look at the statistics and walk away from the Temple of Global Warming. The evidence is clear – we are in a cooling period. Global Warming is a farce, a hoax, a money grabbing sham.

    Now, lets focus on the real issue – identifying polluters in the third world countries and hold them to the same standards that the US has. China and India come to mind. Let's level the costs of environmental enforcement and watch the third world cost advantage decrease.

    Be smart – wake up – I know it feels good to "care about the planet " but you look foolish believing in this stuff.

    January 28, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  12. Wes

    Is Gore not irrelevant yet?

    January 28, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  13. Sharon from Dumfries Virginia

    Global What....???

    Help the American people stay in their homes.....Please!!!!!

    January 28, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  14. Matt

    Hint: the bible is not a political instruction manual. Global warming and evolution are real.

    January 28, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  15. Dawn

    When you have asthma, the weather effects it. I get information of global warming and its not good. Go on Google Earth and see all of our icebergs that are shrinking, Glacier National Park is shrinking. Polar Bears are hungry, remember there are animals that depend on this type of fridged weather. I really don't know if we can reverse this. The Bush Administration thought that there was no such thing as Global Warming, and why did he dergulate all of the foundries.

    Global warming is man made, please look at out disasters that has been taking place, lets see Katrina, Rita, Gustav, Ike. The tsnamies. Volcanic actions. Anything more.

    January 28, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  16. Tom in S.A.

    Martha,
    Well said.

    January 28, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  17. Bob

    Isn't it weird that a hearing on the environment is being heard before the Foreign Relations committee instead of the Environment and Public Works Committee? Of course you all know why. That's because the last time Gore appeared before that committee James Inhofe made him look like the dumbest man on the planet. Anybody who believes human beings can actually affect the weather need to do something to warm this country up. This might be one of the coldest winters of my lifetime. Global warming is fictional beyond a reasonable doubt.

    January 28, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  18. Robin

    Does no one remember that Al Gore couldn't tell the truth when he was VP? His constant lying was such an embarrasment to the Clinton administration that they had to keep him away from the press. He was a pathological liar then and is worse now.

    January 28, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  19. TonyM

    Al Gore is clown shoes.

    January 28, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  20. Maggie

    Global warming is real. It's happened to earth time and time again. We have warming trends and cooling trends. The Great Lakes were formed by retreating icebergs during another age of global warming. It's all part of the earth's natural cycles.

    Humans have probably helped this global warming stage come in earlier than it might have naturally, maybe it'll last longer and possibly be worse than it would have been had we not been here. We've contributed to it, we didn't cause it. We weren't even on the planet during dozens of other warming/cooling cycles millions of years ago.

    Can we do anything to combat it? No, but maybe we could do something so it won't be as bad as it might be. It may already be too late for us to diminish the impact we've contributed to global warming.

    January 28, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  21. Damon

    I hope they ask Al about his new 100 foot house boat he bought himself for pleasue riding on a lake near Knoxville. Twin diesel engines that supposedly can run on biofuel but must be transported in using petroleum fuel. What a fake.

    January 28, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  22. Darko

    "man made' global warming is a hoax. It's a money maker. Take it to Europe Al, they're dumb enough to have already started carbon credits and are continueing despite its failure.

    To all the 'believers'... who exactly warmed the earth when Greenland was...green? Realize that Gore only uses a few centuries to base his claims while real scientist study ice cores from thousands of centuries. CO2 follows warming as the waters release it as it can't hold it at warmer temps. CO2 is a by-product of warming, not the cause.

    Stopping 'polution' is noble and worthy. Global warming is a hoax to prop up more socialistic govt control over our economy.

    January 28, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  23. Tony

    Follow the money. Among those who stand to profit from draconian environmental regulations (drumroll): Al Gore.

    January 28, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  24. Darrell

    This discussion is the result of an imbicile who has cried wolf for the sole purpose of lining his own pockets. Gore has positioned himself to make tens of millions of dollars as a charter stakeholder in these "green" companies; meanwhile the evironazis line up to drink his kool-aid. I say simply "Stop global whining!!!"

    January 28, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  25. A. Lendel

    Hope he doesn't freeze on the way to the meeting.

    January 28, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
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