Gore and U.N. Panel Share Peace Prize
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Former vice president Al Gore, who wrapped up a remarkable year of honors yesterday by sharing the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with a U.N. scientific panel, said he will use the award to heighten awareness of "a true planetary emergency" from global warming and press the world's nations to combat its threats.
For Gore, the award was a measure of vindication for his passionate commitment to the issue of climate change in the face of occasional ridicule and pointed political criticism dating back two decades. Coming seven years after a bitter defeat in his bid to win the White House, it also rekindled speculation about a possible 2008 presidential run, which his aides quickly sought to squelch.
In a statement issued shortly after the award was announced in Norway, Gore said he was deeply honored to be cited for his work and to share the prize with the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a Geneva-based committee of scientists established in 1988.
"The climate crisis is not a political issue, it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity," Gore said. "It is also our greatest opportunity to lift global consciousness to a higher level."
Later, in a brief appearance in Palo Alto, Calif., with his wife, Tipper, at his side, he told reporters, "We have to quickly find a way to change the world's consciousness about exactly what we're facing." He declined to answer questions.
The decision by the Norwegian Nobel Committee drew widespread praise among Democrats and environmentalists, a more measured response from the White House, and outright scorn from some conservatives.
The awarding of the prize to Gore and the IPCC highlights the extent to which climate change now occupies a central place in the public debate over the world's economic and environmental future.
John Ashton, Britain's special representative for climate change, said the award signals that the international community has "crossed a threshold" when it comes to global warming. "The international community now understands this is not only an environmental challenge like other environmental challenges, it is a fundamental challenge to international peace and security," he said in an interview.
Reaction in Europe, where the Bush administration has been seen as resistant to addressing the warming issue, was strongly positive among politicians across the ideological spectrum.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called Gore "inspirational." French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he was happy that "a great American used his position to set an example." European Commission President Jos¿ Manuel Barroso said he hoped Gore's honor would encourage world leaders to "approach this challenge even more swiftly and decisively."
In winning the Nobel Peace Prize, Gore completed an unusual trifecta of awards for the year. The movie "An Inconvenient Truth," which highlighted his crusade, won Oscars for best documentary and best original song. Gore also won an Emmy for the interactive work of Current TV, a cable channel he helped found.
The Nobel committee described Gore as "probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted."