“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. “But there is hopeful news as well: we have the ability to solve this crisis and avoid the worst – though not all – of its consequences, if we act boldly, decisively and quickly.”
“We are what is wrong, and we must make it right,” Gore said later in his speech, warning that, “the very web of life on which we depend is being ripped and frayed.”
Gore Takes Tough Stance on Global Warming in Nobel Prize Lecture
Gore, a former U.S. vice president who served in Congress for many years, didn’t pull any punches in spelling out the dangers of global warming and condemning the political maneuvering that continues to delay the actions required to head off its most devastating effects.
Gore called for a tax on carbon emissions and “a moratorium on the construction of any new generating facility that burns coal without the capacity to safely trap and store carbon dioxide.”
Gore, whose solo campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of global warming was turned into the Oscar-winning documentary film, An Inconvenient Truth, also suggested an accelerated timeframe for a new international treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol. Gore urged world leaders to adopt “a bold mandate for a treaty that establishes a universal global cap on emissions and uses the market in emissions trading to efficiently allocate resources to the most effective opportunities for speedy reductions.”
“This treaty should be ratified and brought into effect everywhere in the world by the beginning of 2010 – two years sooner than presently contemplated,” Gore said. “The pace of our response must be accelerated to match the accelerating pace of the crisis itself.”
Gore Calls On the U.S. and China to Make Progress, Not Excuses
From the Nobel podium, Gore turned a global spotlight on the United States and China, in particular, calling on the world’s two worst carbon dioxide emitters to provide strong leadership on the issue of global warming instead of pointing fingers and ducking their responsibilities.
“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,” Gore said.
Despite Urgent Problems, Gore Offers Hope for Bright Future
While painting a stark picture of a bleak future, Gore also offered a message of hope to people worldwide who are willing to unite and stand together for meaningful change.
“The future is knocking at our door right now,” Gore said. “Make no mistake, the next generation will ask us one of two questions. Either they will ask: ‘What were you thinking; why didn't you act?’ Or they will ask instead: ‘How did you find the moral courage to rise and successfully resolve a crisis that so many said was impossible to solve?’
“We have everything we need to get started, save perhaps political will, but political will is a renewable resource. So let us renew it, and say together: ‘We have a purpose. We are many. For this purpose we will rise, and we will act.’”
Highlights of Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize Lecture
Review other highlights of Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize lecture below, or read the full text of the speech:
- Without realizing it, we have begun to wage war on the earth itself. Now, we and the earth's climate are locked in a relationship familiar to war planners: "Mutually assured destruction."
- Now comes the threat of climate crisis – a threat that is real, rising, imminent, and universal. Once again, it is the 11th hour. The penalties for ignoring this challenge are immense and growing, and at some near point would be unsustainable and unrecoverable. For now we still have the power to choose our fate, and the remaining question is only this: Have we the will to act vigorously and in time, or will we remain imprisoned by a dangerous illusion?
- When we unite for a moral purpose that is manifestly good and true, the spiritual energy unleashed can transform us.
- We must understand the connections between the climate crisis and the afflictions of poverty, hunger, HIV-Aids and other pandemics. As these problems are linked, so too must be their solutions. We must begin by making the common rescue of the global environment the central organizing principle of the world community.
- These are the last few years of decision, but they can be the first years of a bright and hopeful future if we do what we must. No one should believe a solution will be found without effort, without cost, without change. Let us acknowledge that if we wish to redeem squandered time and speak again with moral authority, then these are the hard truths.
See what R.K. Pachauri said during his lecture, in accepting the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the IPCC.