OSLO (Reuters) - Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore says he has no plans to join the presidential race despite encouragement from thousands of supporters since he won the Nobel Peace Prize for campaigning against climate change.
Gore, narrowly beaten by U.S. President George W. Bush in the 2000 election, said that it was a “great honor” to win the award. Gore will share the $1.5 million prize with the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
“I don’t have plans to be a candidate again so I don’t really see it in that context at all,” Gore said when asked in an interview with Norway’s NRK public television aired on Wednesday about how the award would affect his political future.
NRK said it was Gore’s first interview since the prize, announced in Oslo, revived speculation that he might make a late bid for the Democratic nomination for the 2008 presidential election.
An organization called www.draftgore.com said that 200,000 people had signed a petition to urge Gore to run, with a jump of 70,000 signatures in four days after the prize.
“I’m involved in a different kind of campaign, it’s a global campaign,” Gore said. “It’s a campaign to change the way people think about the climate crisis.”
Gore has repeatedly said that he has no plans to run, without completely ruling it out, in a crowded Democratic field against Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards.
It would be hard, but not impossible, for Gore to enter the race. The first contest on the road to the election in November 2008, the Iowa caucuses, is less than 100 days away.
Asked how it was to win the Nobel Prize, Gore said: “It’s impossible to put it into words, it’s such a great honor.”
“For me personally it means the chance to be more effective in trying to deliver this message about the climate crisis and the urgency of solving the climate crisis.”
Gore also won an Oscar for his documentary film “An Inconvenient Truth” about the threats from global warming, such as more floods, droughts, risks of disease, more powerful storms and rising seas.
Separately, the director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute defended the 2007 award from critics who say that climate change has too little to do with peacemaking as envisaged by Alfred Nobel, who founded the awards in his 1895 will.
“The Nobel Committee has always had a broad definition of peace,” Geir Lundestad wrote in the daily Aftenposten.
“When seas rise, the number of climate refugees could quickly rise,” Lundestad said. “When glaciers melt, rivers will be reduced or even dry out. The lack of resources will increase in parts of the world.”
“All this will put weak states under great pressure,” he said. “Drought and desertification have already led to the first ‘climate wars’ in Darfur and in the whole of the Sahel belt across Africa.”
He also noted that the first prize, in 1901, was shared by Henry Dunant, the founder of the Red Cross. Some people at the time argued that alleviating suffering had nothing to do with peace.