Former Vice President Al Gore joined about 100 world leaders at the U.N. building in New York on Sept. 22 for an unprecedented day of discussions regarding climate change.
President Barack Obama also addressed the meeting, which was designed to build momentum toward the U.N. Climate Change Conference to be held in Copenhagen in December. The Copenhagen meeting will work to develop international goals to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.
During the meeting, Gore expressed his gratitude to U.N. leaders for hosting the conference, which he believed was “likely to have a major impact.”
“I know it looks like a daunting challenge, [but] it is not an impossible challenge,” Gore argued. “So much is at stake. We really must have progress, and I hope that we will.”
Gore noted “the importance of U.S. leadership in the days between now and the opening of the Copenhagen negotiation,” but added that “the politics in the United States are difficult on this issue.” In particular, he pushed the U.S. Senate to pass climate change legislation before the Copenhagen meeting.
“I choose to be optimistic that they will act, and I call upon them to avoid being distracted by backward-looking amendments,” Gore stated.
In June, the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passed the “American Clean Energy and Security Act,” an unprecedented effort to fight global warming. A Baptist Center for Ethics letter signed by more than 140 Baptist leaders and declaring support for the bill was released to each member of Congress shortly before the House vote.
Gore argued that Senate passage of the bill was important to help set the stage for the Copenhagen meeting. He added that the healthcare debate was keeping lawmakers from focusing as closely on the climate change legislation.
“The ability of President Obama to wield the moral authority that the United States has built up in the decades since the end of World War II … would be greatly enhanced if he can go to Copenhagen with this legislation passed,” Gore stated.
“The hour is late and it may well be that he will be forced to go with the legislation still in process. I would hope that at a minimum, the U.S. Senate will pass legislation before Copenhagen. If it does so, then the world can look with confidence at the prospect that the differences between the House and Senate bill will be resolved in a positive way, and the United States will then be in a position to follow through on pledges made as part of the agreement at Copenhagen.”
Gore called on heads of state to work on “concrete proposals” on various issues between now and the Copenhagen gathering. He noted that this week’s G-20 meeting would be a good opportunity for such considerations.
“The personal involvement by heads of state will be the crucial factor in breaking the incipient deadlock,” Gore argued.
Gore added that he was “glad” to hear Obama pledging to become more involved in pushing the legislation through the Senate. Obama declared during the U.N. meeting on Sept. 22 that the United States would act to stop climate change, such as by capping carbon pollution.
Gore, who shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, explained at the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant in 2008 that there is clear evidence of global warming and that there is a biblical mandate for Christians to act as good stewards by reducing human-induced global warming.
Robert Parham, executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics, introduced Gore at the event with a plaque honoring him as the 2007 Baptist of the Year and with a green-covered Bible.
Brian Kaylor is a contributing editor to EthicsDaily.com.