/ 10 December 2007

‘It’s time to make peace with the planet’

Climate campaigner Al Gore collected the Nobel Peace Prize on Monday and said it was time to stop waging war on the Earth and make peace with the planet.

The former United States vice-president shared the 2007 peace prize with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change whose head, Rajendra Pachauri, urged leaders at a UN climate conference in Indonesia to heed the wisdom of science.

”Without realising it, we have begun to wage war on the Earth itself,” Gore said in the prepared text of his speech. ”It is time to make peace with the planet.”

”The very web of life on which we depend is being ripped and frayed,” Gore said at Oslo’s City Hall.

”The Earth has a fever,” he said, adding that the world every day pumps 70-million tonnes of global-warming pollution — above all, carbon dioxide — into the atmosphere.

Instead of a ”nuclear winter” warned of by scientists a few decades ago, the planet now faces a ”carbon summer”, he said.

Gore, who lost the presidential election to George Bush in 2000, said earlier generations had the courage to save civilisation when leaders found the right words in the 11th hour. ”Once again it is the 11th hour,” he said.

”We must quickly mobilise our civilisation with the urgency and resolve that has previously been seen only when nations mobilised for war,” he said, crediting the generation that defeated fascism around the world in the 1940s.

Gore said he was deeply moved to be the second man from the tiny town of Carthage, Tennessee, to win the peace prize. The first was former US secretary of state Cordell Hull, who got it in 1945 for his role fostering the United Nations.

He said saving the global environment must become ”the central organising principle of the world community”.

Within reach

Pachauri, an Indian scientist, warned that the impact of climate change on some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people could prove ”extremely unsettling”.

He said warming could lead to widespread extinctions of species and a sharp rise in temperatures.

”However, it is within the reach of human society to meet these threats. The impacts of climate change can be limited by suitable adaptation measures and stringent mitigation of greenhouse-gas emissions,” he said.

Gore said he would urge the UN climate conference in Bali, Indonesia, to adopt a bold mandate for a treaty that establishes a universal global cap on emissions and that uses the market in emissions trading to bring about speedy reductions.

He said a new climate treaty to replace the 1997 Kyoto pact curbing gas-greenhouse emissions should be in place by 2010 — two years sooner than now planned — and heads of state should meet every three months until a new treaty is completed.

He also urged a moratorium on building new power plants that burn coal without trapping and storing carbon dioxide (CO2).

”And most important of all, we need to put a price on carbon,” Gore said, urging also a CO2 tax that would be rebated to the people progressively in ways that shift the burden to polluters from taxation of wage-earners.

Gore said the outcome of the battle to save the planet would depend decisively on the two biggest greenhouse gas emitters, the United States and China, making ”the boldest moves.” — Reuters