January 28th, 2009
10:45 AM ET
3 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. Vegas

    I thought the "Climate Change" was the new "Global Warming" catch phrase. Especially with record cold temperatures occuring all over the US. With climate change, the lobbyists aren't committed to warmingor cooling–just a change in the climate.

    Don't get me wrong. I do believe the climate is changing. And man might have some impact on it. (Especially since we insist on chopping down the rain forests). But I think most of it is the natural evolution of the planet.

    Do I think humans can and should do more to protect our environment? Absolutely. But using some basic elementary school science will help reduce the amount of CO2 in the oxygen. Plants need CO2 for photosynthesis. Photosynthesis converts CO2 into oxygen. So, to help reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere–PLANT MORE PLANTS and stop chopping down the rain forest!

    January 28, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  2. wontfoolme

    January 28th, 2009 10:23 am ET

    Let's hope the rich and powerful industry can shut down this foolish 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 AlGore'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, the discovered several oil deposits which will sustain us for years!

    January 28, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  3. Adrienne1001

    Gore says, "The Treaty must be negotiated this year."

    Yeah, because the cat's finally fighting its way out of the proverbial bag with more and more scientists, studies and journals confirming that Global Warming (renamed Climate Change, due to the lack of warmth being felt around the world) is bogus and the gravy train is drying up.

    They gotta get this thing rammed through and ratified before the roles are fully reversed and those that proclaim Climate Change are the "flat-earthers".

    January 28, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  4. Dave F

    Maybe Congress should grill Gore on his phony science the way they grilled the Bank and Automotive CEOs. Wouldn't it be nice if someone confronted him with actual facts showing him that man made global warming in based on bad science and there's a reason he keeps moving his "We only have 10 years to fix this" date back. According to his first phony warning, Washington DC should be underwater right now and the surrounding area more like Florida than Maine. Guess he missed the snow and ice.

    January 28, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  5. JD

    Go away already, Gore!! Your BS to try and bilk more of our money for your crazyness isn't going to work. You can change the climate about as much as you can change your birth mother.

    January 28, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  6. watcher

    Why is it that in every picture I see of Al Gore he looks more like Doctor Evil in the Austin Powers movies? Just an observation.

    January 28, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  7. Matt in Oregon

    Unbelievable that some people still believe conservative propaganda. Meanwhile the tree death rate is doubling here on the west coast. I hope your children choke, you wingnut holy-rolling fanatics.

    January 28, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  8. wontfoolme

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

    January 28, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  9. as

    So....did Gore fly in on his private jet? & then hire a gas-eating limo to drive him around while he's in town?

    It would be easier to believe any part of what he says if he wasn't such a hypocrite....

    January 28, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  10. Pat

    I can't believe how many people on here think that global warming is not happening. What a bunch of short-sighted nitwits. No wonder Bush got elected twice.

    January 28, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  11. Terry Walker

    The sky is falling, the sky is falling.

    January 28, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  12. LIP

    Glaciers have advanced and retreated and advanced and retreated thousands of times, with the last advance referred to as the mini-ice age from1350AD until present. We are currently in a retreat and a consortium of 400 scientists representing the group against Gore have expressed their regrets that Gore seems to believe otherwise.

    January 28, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  13. John

    The book, Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years by Singer and Avery, explains the warming and cooling of the earth. The sun is driving this, not people.

    January 28, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  14. Cody

    Gosh. Reading these comments is really changing my perspective on climate change. I used to think that the 97% of polled climatologists who believed in man-made global warming probably knew what they were talking about when it came to this very complex, difficult issue. But reading the vitriol of a bunch of politically motivated, climate non-specialists, I just can't say anymore who to trust.

    January 28, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  15. Chris, Albany, NY

    To all the nay-sayers and skeptics alike. I know that you like to rally against it saying that is't not happening and the like but do any of you actually understand Science? I mean I know that it hasn't been a focus in our schools in 30 years and most of you think that science craziness. Guess what folks science is baced on FACT, you all know what facts are I hope. Facts are that the climate is changing, it snowed in Dubai FOR THE 1ST TIME IN RECORDED HISTORY just the other day; RECORDED HISTORY! Australia is experiencing a major drought and storms seem to just keep on getting stronger (Katrina, Rita, Dolly and Ike). Global warming dosn't just mean that the earth is gettin warmer (some parts are) it can also trigger major changes in the earth weather paterns. There's too much to explain in just this post but it is happening folks and we can help stop or reduce it's effects if we act boldly, swiftly and in concert with the rest of the human race.

    January 28, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  16. In Houston, TX

    Why is it that the rest of the world acknowledges the climate crisis but here in the USA it's still a debate? Why have major nations all over the world have signed on to the Kioto protocal but we have not?
    I know that scientist all over the world convened to discuss this issue and have agreed that this is an issue. And there is no doubt that the Bush admin has silenced scientists on this issue. He is gone now. And I have never seen the right more vocal on an issue that wasn't election related. you guys are out in force on this one.
    Luckily the right is a minority now and this country is working on getting things done

    January 28, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  17. JohnFLob Angier NC

    Is ALL(not a typo) GORE really correct? What happened to all the Katrinas that were going to destroy the Atlantic and Gulf coastal regions?
    Why have the 'scorching temperatures' not higher than in 1998?
    How can the climatic conditions around the world that are producing record snow falls in both hemispheres be a sign of AGW.?
    Why is the Arctic ice returning to its extent of the late 1900's?
    Why is CO2 considered a deadly pollutant when it is REQUIRED to sustain life as we know it? Have ALL GORE and his buddies at the IPCC reached a consensous as to what the ideal climate should be? If not how can we develop controls if don't know where we are going?

    G lobal
    O rganizations
    R ejecting
    E vidence

    January 28, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  18. j williamson

    Al Gore is the best President America never had!

    January 28, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  19. Rick

    Fewer and fewer people are buying into GreenHouse GasBag Al's "global warming" scam(Oops, I'm sorry, it's "climate change" now so that they can continue the scam whatever the weather does), thus Al is frantically trying to get the treaty signed.

    January 28, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  20. red33,cedar rapids, ia

    Please, Al..........just go away; you've made enough to live on pushing this ......global warming ....it's all the U.S.' fault........nonsense. O.K., there may be global warming, somewhat, but it sure doesn't feel like it here in Iowa. Also, top scientists state that it is NOT man made, but cyclic, and was bound to happen anyway. This has been a 'moneymaker' for those in the 'green' business, but not so for the taxpayer who has to foot the bill for 'pie in the sky'.

    January 28, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  21. JW

    Does idiot boy Al not read the weather reports? Does he not see the scientific data that the earths been cooling for the last 10 years? Did he not see the report earlier this month that the ice cap is back to 1989 levels?

    This bozo still hasn't gotten it into his pea sized brain that the earth heats and cools in a natural cycle and there's squat that man can do about it.

    January 28, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  22. Louie

    Carbon is not the problem. Do things to reduce chemical pollutants and the carbon will clear itself up. The earth cools and warms on its own, but if we pollute our water then we will have nothing to drink and die. Clean the water first, the rest will be taken care of as a by product.

    January 28, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  23. Kevin

    Easy solution to global warming...turn up your thermostat.

    January 28, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  24. Joe P

    I think Gore would have more success at fixing things we can all participate in; such as working toward clean air and water standards. Not because we're at a tipping point, but simply so we can have clean air & water!!

    If he approached any problem and explained it in simple terms, with facts and information we could all research ... who knows what could happen!

    And the media has to just tell us the news! Not spin it or give us their opinion or the opinion of their advertisers!!

    January 28, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  25. John in Memphis

    Gore should be ashmaed of himself. At this point, whether we are responsible or not, there is nothing we can do about it now. Ever heard of cyclical change in weather?

    January 28, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
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