By Mary Jordan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, December 10, 2007
OSLO, Dec. 9 -- Former vice president Al Gore, in Norway to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on global warming, said Sunday he was encouraged by "the rising of the world's first people power movement on a global basis" to tackle climate change.
Citing efforts by U.S. cities and businesses, as well as grass-roots efforts around the world, Gore said that although "this has not yet resulted in changes at the White House," he was optimistic that "as the truth of this climate crisis begins to be more widely known, people are going to demand that political leaders take action."
Gore shared this year's Peace Prize with the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and is to receive it Monday. The prize money of 10 million Swedish kronor is worth in excess of $1.5 million, far more than in previous years because of the declining value of the dollar.
Geir Lundestad, director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, said in an interview that the news media were showing more interest in the Nobel ceremony this year because concern about the environment has "exploded as a political and moral issue all over the world."
"While the U.S. may be lagging behind, particularly at the national level," in recognizing and acting on climate change, Lundestad said, he predicted that "we will see changes in America, too."
Gore said that individual action is important but that new laws and treaties are needed to address what he called "a question of the survival of our civilization."
Thousands of activists and government leaders are currently meeting in Bali, Indonesia, to begin negotiations toward a new global climate-change treaty. There are growing demands, spurred by fear that human activities are causing temperatures and sea levels to rise, for binding legal commitments to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the U.N. panel that shared the Peace Prize with Gore, said people are going to have to change their lifestyles, but "that doesn't mean we have to go back to life in a cave." He said his own children "shamed" him into changing his habits, and he urged young people to realize the influence they have over adults.
Gore, whose every move here is being photographed, was asked whether he planned to endorse a U.S. presidential candidate. He said he had made "no decision about whether I will endorse, much less who I would endorse."
As for himself, Gore reiterated: "I have no plans to be a candidate. . . . I doubt very seriously that will ever happen, but I see no need to remove it entirely as a possibility in my life in the future, even though I don't expect it."