OSLO (Reuters) - Climate campaigner Al Gore collected the Nobel Peace Prize on Monday and said it was time to make peace with the planet.
The former U.S. vice president shared the 2007 prize with the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change whose head, Rajendra Pachauri, told leaders at a U.N. climate conference in Indonesia to heed the wisdom of science.
”Without realizing it, we have begun to wage war on the earth itself,“ Gore said in his speech. ”It is time to make peace with the planet.
“The very web of life on which we depend is being ripped and frayed,” Gore said at Oslo’s City Hall to the applause of about 1,000 guests, including Norway’s King Harald and Queen Sonja.
“The earth has a fever. And the fever is rising,” he said, adding the world every day pumps out 70 million tons of global-warming pollution -- mainly carbon dioxide.
Instead of the “nuclear winter” scientists warned of a few decades ago, the planet now faces a “carbon summer,” he said.
Gore, for whom the Nobel prize marked a dramatic comeback from defeat to George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential election, said earlier generations had the courage to save civilization when leaders found the right words in the 11th hour.
“Once again it is the 11th hour,” said Gore, who has said he will give his part of the $1.5 million prize to climate work.
“We must quickly mobilize our civilization with the urgency and resolve that has previously been seen only when nations mobilized for war,” he said, crediting the generation that defeated fascism around the world in the 1940s.
Gore said he was deeply moved to be the second man from the tiny town of Carthage, Tennessee, to win the peace prize. The first was U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull in 1945 for his role fostering the United Nations.
He said saving the global environment must become “the central organizing principle of the world community.”
The ceremony was beamed live to the U.N. climate conference in Bali, Indonesia, where governments are meeting to find a way to cut emissions beyond the Kyoto pact, which runs out in 2012.
Pachauri, an Indian scientist, warned the impact of climate change on some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people could prove “extremely unsettling.”
He said warming could lead to widespread extinctions of species and a sharp rise in temperatures of 4.5 degrees Celsius from 1980-99 levels would be “grave and disastrous.”
Pachauri said the world’s attention is now riveted on Bali and he asked: “Will those responsible for decisions in the field of climate change at the global level listen to the voice of science and knowledge, which is now loud and clear?”
The U.N. climate panel groups some 2,500 scientists from more than 130 countries and has issued four major reports detailing the increasing threats of global warming.
The laureates will go to Bali from Norway, and Gore said he would urge the conference to adopt a bold mandate for a treaty that puts a universal global cap on emissions and that uses the market in emissions trading to bring about speedy reductions.
He said a new climate treaty to replace the 1997 Kyoto pact curbing greenhouse gas emissions should be in place by 2010 -- two years sooner than now planned -- and heads of state should meet every three months until a new treaty is completed.
He also urged a moratorium on building new power plants that burn coal without trapping and storing carbon dioxide (CO2).
“Most important of all, we need to put a price on carbon,” Gore said, urging also a CO2 tax that would be rebated to the people progressively in ways that shift the burden to polluters.
Gore said the two biggest greenhouse gas emitters, the United States and China, were failing to do enough, but saving the planet depended on them making the boldest moves.
Editing by Janet Lawrence