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Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Gore gets Nobel, warns of ominous threat
OSLO (AP) -- Al Gore received his Nobel Peace Prize on Monday and urged the United States and China to make the boldest moves on climate change or “stand accountable before history for their failure to act.”
In accepting the prize he shared with the UN climate panel, the former vice president said humanity risks sliding down a path of “mutually assured destruction.”
“It is time to make peace with the planet,” Gore said in his acceptance speech that quoted Churchill, Gandhi and the Bible. “We must quickly mobilize our civilization with the urgency and resolve that has previously been seen only when nations mobilized for war.”
Gore shared the Nobel with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for sounding the alarm over global warming and spreading awareness on how to counteract it. The UN panel was represented at the ceremony by its leader, Rajendra Pachauri.
“We, the human species, are confronting a planetary emergency -- a threat to the survival of our civilization that is gathering ominous and destructive potential even as we gather here,” Gore said at the gala ceremony in Oslo's city hall, in front of Norway's royalty, leaders and invited guests.
Gore urged China and the U.S. -- the world's biggest carbon emitters -- to “make the boldest moves, or stand accountable before history for their failure to act.”
His remarks came as governments met in Bali, Indonesia, to start work on a new international treaty to reduce climate-damaging carbon dioxide emissions. Gore and Pachauri plan to fly there Wednesday to join the climate talks.
The governments hope to have the new pact, which succeeds the Kyoto accord, in place by 2012, but Gore has said the urgency of the problem means they should aim to come to an agreement by 2010.
Before his speech, Gore said in an interview with The Associated Press that he believes the next U.S. president will shift the country's course on climate change and engage in global efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
“The new president, whichever party wins the election, is likely to have to change the position on this climate crisis,” Gore said in the interview. “I do believe the U.S., soon, is to have a more constructive role.”
He said it was not too late for Bush administration to join efforts to draft a new global treaty limiting greenhouse gas emissions.
“I have urged President Bush and his administration to be part of the world community's effort to solve this crisis,” Gore said. “I hope they will change their position.”
The Bush administration opposed the Kyoto treaty on climate change, saying it would hurt the U.S. economy and objecting that fast developing nations like China and India were not required to reduce emissions.
In his speech, Gore urged nations to impose a CO2 tax, and called for a moratorium on the building of new coal plants without the capacity to trap carbon. He directed special attention to the United States and China, the world's biggest emitters of carbon emissions.
“While India is also growing fast in importance, it should be absolutely clear that it is the two largest CO2 emitters -- and most of all, my own country -- that will need to make the boldest moves, or stand accountable before history for their failure to act,” Gore said.
“Both countries should stop using the other's behavior as an excuse for stalemate and instead develop an agenda for mutual survival in a shared global environment.”
Pachauri described in his speech how a warming climate could lead to flooding of low-lying countries, disruptions to food supply, the spread of diseases and the loss of biodiversity.
The impact “could prove extremely unsettling” for the world's poor and vulnerable, he said, and ended his speech with a question for the Bali conference: “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?”
Each Nobel Prize includes a gold medal, a diploma and a $1.6 million cash award.
The Nobel Prizes, first awarded in 1901, are always presented Dec. 10, the anniversary of the death of their creator, Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel.
The other Nobel awards -- in medicine, chemistry, physics, literature and economics -- will be presented at a separate ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden.
In Stockholm, the winners of the science Nobels receive their awards Monday from Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf before being treated to a lavish white-tie banquet at City Hall.
The 2007 awards in medicine, chemistry and physics honored breakthroughs in stem cell research on mice, solid-surface chemistry and the discovery of a phenomenon that lets computers and digital music players store reams of data on ever-shrinking hard disks.
Three U.S. economists shared the economics award for their work on how people's knowledge and self-interest affect their behavior in the market or in social situations such as voting and labor negotiations.
One of the economics winners, Leonid Hurwicz, 90, and the literature prize winner, 88-year-old British writer Doris Lessing, could not travel to Stockholm. They will receive their awards at later ceremonies in Minnesota and London, respectively.