Benkamorvan @ Flikr

Source: Benkamorvan @ Flikr

Nobel Prize winning Al Gore addressed a jam-packed plenary today, to reinforce the urgency of the global climate change crisis we face.

“The road to Copenhagen is clear…”

Gore stressed that the ‘optimism and hope’  we see today are great enough to help us to reach an agreement in Copenhagen, in spite of the obstacles and difficulties along the way.  Sending the audience into a frenzy of cheers, this statement raised the decibels in todays plenary, which has only heard a quiet chatter and less engaging murmer up till now. The message Gore delivered was American in style, and somewhat in content, quoting speeches from President-elect Obama on a ‘green’ global deal. He highlighted the emerging consensus on a synchronised and green stimulus to address the global financial crisis, developing the renewable energy sector, empowering people to be more energy efficient through a behavioural change and creating more green jobs to revitalise the global economy.

He praised developing counties for making bold steps and contributing to address climate change; including Brazil which has launched a new plan to halt deforestation, and is also considering further efforts to reduce emissions. China was congratulated for their efforts, which include a $600m injection into the green economy, and the largest tree planting programme globally, showing that they are ready to lead the way to a more sustainable world.

REDD, reform of the CDM and the adaptation fund (with appropriate financial architecture) remain the key discussion points along the journey to an agreement at Copenhagen. In addition, capacity building in developed countries (as well as developing countries) will enable them to overcome “the paralysis preventing us from acting….we must focus less on the activities of OJ Simpson and Paris Hilton, and more on the moral issue we face today”.

Gore continued to stress this notion of the climate crisis as a moral and spiritual issue, not a political one – “We have a generational mission, a compelling moral purpose and a shared vision to act…”, echoing the sentiments of  a shared vision within the UNFCCC discussions, and also highlighted by Yvo de Boer in Wednesday’s press conference.

In a bold statement, Gore emphasised that we must strive to achieve 350ppm not just 450ppm, claiming that the momentum we could achieve globally in reducing GHGs could make this an easier target for the future. Whilst this statement received further cheers and applause from many research, youth and non governmental delegations pushing for stronger targets, it seems a rather audacious claim to make amid climate negotiations which have, to date, struggled to negotiate the detail of how to deliver any agreement with significant commitments to reach 450ppm. However ambitious the target might be, the overcrowded audience was fully engaged with the speaker’s vision…more so than any other plenary I’d attended over the past 8 days. Could it be that the Academy Award-winning celebrity had us all star-struck?  Whether a good or bad thing, this nobel prize winner certainly raised the levels of frenzy in the corridor. All that remains now are the next 12 months until Copenhagen to work out the details of such bold ambitions.

Gore also runs Generation Investment Management LLP – a London based investment management firm which focuses on sustainability factors including social and environmental responsibility and corporate governance.

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