October 23, 2007 / 7:10 PM / 12 years ago

Gore says 2007 pivotal year in climate change fight

BERLIN (Reuters) - Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore said on Tuesday he was optimistic future generations would look back at 2007 as the pivotal year when the world finally found the courage to fight together against climate change.

Former U.S. Vice President and winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize Al Gore holds a speech during a climate congress in Berlin October 23, 2007. The text in the background reads: 'Energy needs impulses.' REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

In one of his first public speeches since winning a share of the award on October 12, Gore also said world leaders should meet in January under the auspices of the United Nations to act on the results of U.N. climate change talks in Bali in December.

The former Vice President also renewed a call to speed up the timetable for a post-Kyoto agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions by two years to 2010. The Kyoto Protocol that runs to 2012 requires 36 nations to cut emissions.

“I believe our children and grandchildren will look back at the year 2007 and ask one of two questions,” said Gore, who shared the prize with the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for raising awareness of global warming.

“Either they will ask about us — What were they doing? What were they thinking about and how could they let that catastrophe happen? Didn’t they listen to the scientists? Didn’t they see the glaciers and polar caps melting? Didn’t they see the fires?

“Or will they ask another question. I want them to look back at 2007 and ask: ‘How did they find the moral courage to rise up and solve the problem everyone said was impossible to solve?”‘

Speaking at a conference on climate change, Gore renewed a proposal for world leaders to hold crisis meetings every three months to work quickly to find solutions to slow global warming.

Leaders from the Group of Eight leading industrial nations pledged in June to find a follow-up deal for Kyoto in 2009. Reaching a new agreement will not be easy.

The United States, which did not ratify Kyoto, has resisted binding targets while Europe insists mandatory limits are the only way to effectively fight climate change. Developing nations are divided over the size of their emission restraints.

“The treaty that will be negotiated in Bali must be completed ahead of schedule in 2010 instead of waiting until 2012,” said Gore.

“Because the two biggest polluters, my country and China, are not in Kyoto. Both will be more likely to join Bali. And after that world leaders should meet every three months until the treaty is completed. Our children and grand children are depending on us to meet this emergency.”

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