Al Gore sees hope in "people power"

OSLO Sun Dec 9, 2007 2:16pm EST

1 of 2. Former Vice President Al Gore gestures as he speaks to the media during a news conference in Oslo December 9, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Ints Kalnins

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OSLO (Reuters) - Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore said on Sunday he was optimistic that a growing "people-power" movement would push the world's leaders to take action to stop global warming.

The former U.S. vice president likened the campaign to the ban-the-bomb movement of past decades, and urged leaders at a U.N. climate conference in Bali, Indonesia, to issue a mandate for a strong treaty to curb greenhouse gases.

Gore, who shared the 2007 peace prize with the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for raising awareness and advancing climate science, will receive the prize in Oslo on Monday with the IPCC's chairman Rajendra Pachauri. The prize was announced in October.

"I have one reason for being optimistic, and that is that I see throughout my own country, the United States of America, and throughout the world the rising of the world's first people-power movement on a global basis," he said.

Gore pointed to an international grassroots nuclear-freeze movement which helped push U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to sign arms controls deals in the late 1980s, and said the climate campaign was even broader.

Gore and Pachauri will travel from Oslo to Bali where governments are meeting to try to launch negotiations towards an environmental treaty to succeed the Kyoto protocol which expires in 2012.

"It is my great hope that the meeting in Bali will result in a strong mandate empowering the world to move forward quickly to a meaningful treaty," Gore said.

CIVILISATION THREAT

Gore, whose Oscar-winning documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" called for immediate action on the environment, urged for curbs on carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas blamed by scientists for global warming.

"The engines of our great global civilization are now pouring 70 million tons of global warming pollution into (the atmosphere) every single day. It is having the consequences long predicted by the scientific community," he said.

"It is now abundantly clear that we cannot continue this process," he said.

Pachauri, seated next to Gore at Oslo's Nobel Institute under ceilings adorned with white peace doves, urged world leaders to consider tough steps to tackle global warming.

"If we were to carry out this stringent mitigation, one of the scenarios that we have assessed clearly shows that we have a window of nearly seven years," Pachauri said. "That means by 2015 we will have to see that emissions of greenhouse gases peak no later than that year and start declining thereafter."

"The time for doubting the science is over. What we need now is action," said Pachauri, an Indian who is head of a body of around 2,500 climate scientists from more than 130 nations.

Referring to U.S. civil rights leader Martin Luther King, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and said "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," Gore said: "In the same way, CO2 increases anywhere are a threat to the future of civilization everywhere."

(Editing by Caroline Drees)

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