December 2009

Time is up for short-term thinking in capitalism December 2, 2009 : 3:56 PM

On Friday, David Blood and I published an op-ed in the Financial Times in which we wrote:

"Why do investors and business leaders continue to focus on the short-term and ignore the fact that businesses that think long-term end up more competitive and profitable? Behavioral economists believe they have the answer: our brains are hard-wired to think short-term because evolution has rewarded serial short-term successes such as avoiding predators and other dangers that faced our ancestors. Their survival ensured our existence - but predisposed us to the same kind of short-term thinking. As a result, even though our world is very different from theirs, long-term decision-making remains the exception, not the rule."

"The global financial crisis had its origins in short-term, unsustainable strategies and actions. Before the crisis and since, we (and others) have called for a more long-term and responsible form of capitalism - what we call "sustainable capitalism". Yet despite our collective best efforts, one year on, the capital markets seem to be reverting to business as usual."

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Climate change leads to wars in Africa December 4, 2009 : 11:46 AM

According to the Telegraph:

"The march of climate change could make civil wars much more likely, new research suggests, with models predicting nearly 400,000 extra deaths in African conflicts by 2030."

"A rise of as little as 1C could make civil conflict in sub-Saharan Africa more than 50 per cent more likely, according to the study."

"Marshall Burke, a University of California economist and the study's lead author, said: "Our study finds that climate change could increase the risk of African civil war by over 50 percent in 2030 relative to 1990, with huge potential costs to human livelihood."

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Good job Air Force December 4, 2009 : 3:24 PM

According the Air Force Times:

"The largest solar neighborhood in the continental U.S. will be on an Air Force base in Arizona’s Sonora Desert, where the sun shines 350 days a year."

"Davis-Monthan Air Force Base outside Tucson is putting the finishing touches on its record-setting “green” privatized housing development called Soaring Heights Communities, according to Col. Charles Hunter, commander of the base’s 355th Mission Support Group, which oversees the project."

These steps are important, but even more vital to solving the climate crisis is passing the bill currently before the Senate. Over the next few weeks we need to demonstrate the overwhelming public support for this legislation.

The Alliance for Climate Protection is giving you the opportunity to show your friends, neighbors, Congressmen and Senators why you support this bill. Add your voice to the Repower America Wall today by clicking here.

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At COP15 December 14, 2009 : 6:54 PM

I'm here in Copenhagen for the UN Climate Conference. Today, in addition to lunch with scientists, I heard a report on the state of ice in Greenland.

Later in the day, Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre and I presented our global report on melting ice. You can read the report "Melting snow and ice. A call for action" by clicking here and watch some highlights from the event here.

I’ll keep updating you throughout the week.

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My remarks December 16, 2009 : 4:01 PM

Yesterday I gave my remarks at the UN Climate Conference. You can watch them here:

Al Gore - Call for Action from Project Survival Media on Vimeo.

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Conservatives for Climate Change December 17, 2009 : 11:08 AM

In our current political environment, it is customary to divide our country along ideological or political lines -- liberal and conservative, Democratic or Republican, etc. However, fighting the climate crisis should not be a topic that is simply placed on the political spectrum. Conservatives have as much of an interest in solving this crisis as liberals.

Writing in the Washington Post, James Murdoch (son of Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp.) makes the case for why conservatives should be on board with solving the climate crisis:

"Conservatives champion the essential characteristics of America: liberty, enterprise and ingenuity. As world leaders consider how to transform the way we make and use energy in the face of a changing climate, it's time for an energy policy true to that spirit -- and it shouldn't be anathema to the American right." 


"Conservatives have a robust tradition of principled concern for the environment. It was, after all, Teddy Roosevelt who created five national parks and signed the Antiquities Act. It was Richard Nixon who established the Environmental Protection Agency, and George H.W. Bush who ushered in one of the greatest environmental success stories, the 1990 cap-and-trade plan to take on acid rain."

Please pass this article on to any friends or family on the right side of the ideological divide.

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Our Choice in Demark December 17, 2009 : 5:21 PM

More than 1,000 were in the audience here in Copenhagen at the Imperial Movie Theater for the launch Our Choice.

It was an exceptional event and I am elated my book is now available in Denmark. 
 
All of the profits, as previously announced, go to the Alliance for Climate Protection.

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World Leaders Meet in Copenhagen December 18, 2009 : 10:40 AM

World leaders are meeting in Copenhagen today.

And President Obama gave remarks at COP15:

"Good morning. It is an honor for me to join this distinguished group of leaders from nations around the world. We come here in Copenhagen because climate change poses a grave and growing danger to our people. All of you would not be here unless you -- like me -- were convinced that this danger is real. This is not fiction, it is science. Unchecked, climate change will pose unacceptable risks to our security, our economies, and our planet. This much we know."

"The question, then, before us is no longer the nature of the challenge -- the question is our capacity to meet it. For while the reality of climate change is not in doubt, I have to be honest, as the world watches us today, I think our ability to take collective action is in doubt right now, and it hangs in the balance."

"I believe we can act boldly, and decisively, in the face of a common threat. That's why I come here today -- not to talk, but to act."

"Now, as the world's largest economy and as the world's second largest emitter, America bears our responsibility to address climate change, and we intend to meet that responsibility. That's why we've renewed our leadership within international climate change negotiations. That's why we've worked with other nations to phase out fossil fuel subsidies. That's why we've taken bold action at home -- by making historic investments in renewable energy; by putting our people to work increasing efficiency in our homes and buildings; and by pursuing comprehensive legislation to transform to a clean energy economy."

"These mitigation actions are ambitious, and we are taking them not simply to meet global responsibilities. We are convinced, as some of you may be convinced, that changing the way we produce and use energy is essential to America's economic future -- that it will create millions of new jobs, power new industries, keep us competitive, and spark new innovation. We're convinced, for our own self-interest, that the way we use energy, changing it to a more efficient fashion, is essential to our national security, because it helps to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and helps us deal with some of the dangers posed by climate change."

"So I want this plenary session to understand, America is going to continue on this course of action to mitigate our emissions and to move towards a clean energy economy, no matter what happens here in Copenhagen. We think it is good for us, as well as good for the world. But we also believe that we will all be stronger, all be safer, all be more secure if we act together. That's why it is in our mutual interest to achieve a global accord in which we agree to certain steps, and to hold each other accountable to certain commitments."

"After months of talk, after two weeks of negotiations, after innumerable side meetings, bilateral meetings, endless hours of discussion among negotiators, I believe that the pieces of that accord should now be clear."

"First, all major economies must put forward decisive national actions that will reduce their emissions, and begin to turn the corner on climate change. I'm pleased that many of us have already done so. Almost all the major economies have put forward legitimate targets, significant targets, ambitious targets. And I'm confident that America will fulfill the commitments that we have made: cutting our emissions in the range of 17 percent by 2020, and by more than 80 percent by 2050 in line with final legislation."

"Second, we must have a mechanism to review whether we are keeping our commitments, and exchange this information in a transparent manner. These measures need not be intrusive, or infringe upon sovereignty. They must, however, ensure that an accord is credible, and that we're living up to our obligations. Without such accountability, any agreement would be empty words on a page."

"I don't know how you have an international agreement where we all are not sharing information and ensuring that we are meeting our commitments. That doesn't make sense. It would be a hollow victory."

"Number three, we must have financing that helps developing countries adapt, particularly the least developed and most vulnerable countries to climate change. America will be a part of fast-start funding that will ramp up to $10 billion by 2012. And yesterday, Secretary Hillary Clinton, my Secretary of State, made it clear that we will engage in a global effort to mobilize $100 billion in financing by 2020, if -- and only if -- it is part of a broader accord that I have just described."

"Mitigation. Transparency. Financing. It's a clear formula -- one that embraces the principle of common but differentiated responses and respective capabilities. And it adds up to a significant accord -- one that takes us farther than we have ever gone before as an international community."

"I just want to say to this plenary session that we are running short on time. And at this point, the question is whether we will move forward together or split apart, whether we prefer posturing to action. I'm sure that many consider this an imperfect framework that I just described. No country will get everything that it wants. There are those developing countries that want aid with no strings attached, and no obligations with respect to transparency. They think that the most advanced nations should pay a higher price; I understand that. There are those advanced nations who think that developing countries either cannot absorb this assistance, or that will not be held accountable effectively, and that the world's fastest-growing emitters should bear a greater share of the burden."

"We know the fault lines because we've been imprisoned by them for years. These international discussions have essentially taken place now for almost two decades, and we have very little to show for it other than an increased acceleration of the climate change phenomenon. The time for talk is over. This is the bottom line: We can embrace this accord, take a substantial step forward, continue to refine it and build upon its foundation. We can do that, and everyone who is in this room will be part of a historic endeavor -- one that makes life better for our children and our grandchildren."

"Or we can choose delay, falling back into the same divisions that have stood in the way of action for years. And we will be back having the same stale arguments month after month, year after year, perhaps decade after decade, all while the danger of climate change grows until it is irreversible."

"Ladies and gentlemen, there is no time to waste. America has made our choice. We have charted our course. We have made our commitments. We will do what we say. Now I believe it's the time for the nations and the people of the world to come together behind a common purpose."

"We are ready to get this done today -- but there has to be movement on all sides to recognize that it is better for us to act than to talk; it’s better for us to choose action over inaction; the future over the past -- and with courage and faith, I believe that we can meet our responsibility to our people, and the future of our planet. Thank you very much."

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Denying the Climate Crisis is Bad Political Strategy December 18, 2009 : 3:43 PM

Joe Lockhart writes a great piece in the Politico:

"Whenever a major political party finds itself out of power and rejected by voters, there’s a scramble to seize on new issues, elevate new leadership and redefine the message. Unfortunately, politicians in these circumstances often succumb to their worst instincts and the urgings of their most extreme constituents. It happens to everyone, and most observers agree that the GOP is struggling with exactly this challenge. The American public, watching this struggle, is reacting as it always does when a party leans toward its extremes: negatively." 


"With an eye on 2010, Republican leaders in Congress should therefore think carefully about their strategy on climate change. The “climategate” controversy over stolen e-mails written by scientists has current leading conservative voices, from Sarah Palin to Glenn Beck to Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), arguing that they’ve at last found the “proof” that global warming is a hoax." 


"Climategate has, this week at least, stirred up a hornet’s nest. But as a political strategy, it’s highly suspect. After all, climate denial has been a marginal position for years, and the American people believe by a wide margin that climate change is real, that we’re causing it and that taking action to solve it will create good-paying jobs. A few out-of-context lines from decade-old e-mails aren’t going to change that in the long term, and anyone who thinks we’ll be talking about these e-mails a year from now hasn’t been paying attention to a news cycle that moves at Twitter speed." 
 


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Pope Benedict: Courage and Sacrifice Necessary December 23, 2009 : 5:22 PM

As the negotiations in Copenhagen reached their final stages, Pope Benedict delivered the following message to the new ambassador from Denmark:

"“while some consensus can undoubtedly be reached” through the elaboration of shared aspirations, policies and targets, “fundamental change – individual or collective – requires conversion of heart”."

"For this reason we need “courage and sacrifice, fruits of an ethical awakening, enable us to envisage a better world”, because when the “moral tenor of society” declines the “challenges facing today’s leaders can only increase”."

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Happy Holidays December 24, 2009 : 7:01 PM

From our family to you and yours: best wishes for a joyous Holiday Season and Happy New Year!

-Al and Tipper Gore

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