WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Initially rebuffed by Washington, former Vice President Al Gore’s Live Earth concerts found a last-minute home in the U.S. capital on Friday after Native Americans offered their museum for the worldwide event.
A few blocks from the U.S. Capitol where some Republican lawmakers had tried to prevent the Washington concert from taking place, the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian will host one of several Saturday concerts highlighting climate change.
“A couple of global warming naysayers used parliamentary tricks in the Congress to block that,” Gore said on CNN. “Well, instead of the cavalry riding to the rescue, the American Indians came to the rescue.”
Concert promoters initially sought the expansive National Mall as its U.S. venue, but two groups already had permits for that space, forcing Live Earth to find another location.
Gore turned to friends in Congress in hopes of getting the Capitol lawn but some Republicans blocked legislation to permit it. That bumped the concert to the 80,000-seat Giants Stadium in New Jersey, just across the Hudson River from Manhattan.
In contrast, the space at the American Indian museum’s plaza, where the concert will be held, can only hold about 200, but video screens will be set up for larger crowds to gather across the street near the Capitol reflecting pool.
The museum had already scheduled a concert called “Mother Earth” to coincide with the Live Earth events, but expanded that in the last few days to include Gore and more performers.
Gore will kick off the Washington concert with a speech on climate change that will be followed by performances by popular married country singers Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood and Native Roots, a reggae band from Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The former vice president has become a global voice on climate change, warning of a “planetary emergency” and calling for U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide, the largest source of the greenhouse gas, to be frozen at current levels.
Other Live Earth concerts will be held in Rio de Janeiro, London, Sydney, Johannesburg, Tokyo, Shanghai, Hamburg, Germany, and New Jersey, and broadcast worldwide.
Unlike most major Live Earth concerts elsewhere, the Washington event will be free. (Additional reporting by Eric Beech and Doina Chiacu)