Gore urges civil disobedience to stop coal plants

NEW YORK Wed Sep 24, 2008 3:28pm EDT

1 of 2. Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore speaks during the Clinton Global Initiative, in New York, September 24, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Chip East

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Nobel Peace Prize winner and environmental crusader Al Gore urged young people on Wednesday to engage in civil disobedience to stop the construction of coal plants without the ability to store carbon.

The former U.S. vice president, whose climate change documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" won an Academy Award, told a philanthropic meeting in New York City that "the world has lost ground to the climate crisis."

"If you're a young person looking at the future of this planet and looking at what is being done right now, and not done, I believe we have reached the stage where it is time for civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal plants that do not have carbon capture and sequestration," Gore told the Clinton Global Initiative gathering to loud applause.

"I believe for a carbon company to spend money convincing the stock-buying public that the risk from the global climate crisis is not that great represents a form of stock fraud because they are misrepresenting a material fact," he said. "I hope these state attorney generals around the country will take some action on that."

The government says about 28 coal plants are under construction in the United States. Another 20 projects have permits or are near the start of construction.

Scientists say carbon gases from burning fossil fuel for power and transport are a key factor in global warming.

Carbon capture and storage could give coal power an extended lease on life by keeping power plants' greenhouse gas emissions out of the atmosphere and easing climate change.

But no commercial-scale project exists anywhere to demonstrate the technology, partly because it is expected to increase up-front capital costs by an additional 50 percent.

So-called geo-sequestration of carbon sees carbon dioxide liquefied and pumped into underground rock layers for long term storage.

(Additional reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Christine Kearney and Xavier Briand)