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By Caren Bohan
CLEARWATER, Fla., Oct 12 (Reuters) - The White House praised former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and the U.N. climate panel on Friday for winning the Nobel Peace Prize for their work to raise awareness of the threat of global warming.
"The president learned about it this morning," said White House spokesman Tony Fratto, who is traveling with Bush in Florida. "Of course he’s happy for Vice President Gore and happy for the international panel on climate change scientists who also shared the peace prize."
"Obviously, it’s an important recognition and we’re sure the vice president is thrilled," added Fratto, who said he did not know of plans for Bush to make a congratulatory call to Gore.
Gore, a Democrat, has been a vocal critic of the environmental policies of President George W. Bush, a Republican who beat him narrowly in a disputed presidential election result in 2000.
Since leaving office in 2001, Gore has lectured extensively on the threat of global warming. In a statement on Friday, he said the climate crisis was "our greatest opportunity to lift global consciousness to a higher level."
Bush disagrees with many of the solutions Gore has offered to climate change. But Fratto said he did not see the prize as sending a message to Washington.
At a White House-convened summit last month, some of the world’s biggest greenhouse polluters called Bush "isolated" and questioned his leadership on the problem of global warming.
Bush has rejected the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, a treaty that sets limits on industrial nations’ greenhouse gas emissions, and instead favors voluntary targets to curb emissions.
Fratto praised Gore and the Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change for their work.
"Obviously the next step ... is implementing climate change strategies that are effective and practical and that allow for continued economic development and for countries to do the work they need to do to lift people out of poverty," he said. "And that’s a challenging task."