Gore shares Nobel win with U.N. climate panel
OSLO (Reuters) - Former Vice President Al Gore and the U.N. climate panel won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for their part in galvanizing international action against global warming before it "moves beyond man's control".
Gore and the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) won "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change", the Norwegian Nobel Committee said.
They were chosen to share the $1.5 million prize from a field of 181 candidates.
"He is probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted," the committee said of Gore.
"The IPCC has created an ever-broader informed consensus about the connection between human activities and global warming," it said.
"Action is necessary now, before climate change moves beyond man's control," the citation said of rising temperatures that could bring more droughts, floods, rising seas.
It was the second prize to a leading Democrat during the presidency of Republican George W. Bush.
The 2002 prize went to former President Jimmy Carter, which the Nobel committee head at the time called a "kick in the legs" to the U.S. administration over preparations to invade Iraq.
But chairman Ole Danbolt Mjoes said the prize to Gore was not meant as criticism of Bush. "A peace price is never criticism of anyone, a peace price is a positive message and support to all fighting for peace in the world."
Since leaving office in 2001 Gore has lectured extensively on the threat of global warming and last year starred in his own Oscar-winning documentary film "An Inconvenient Truth" to warn of the dangers of climate change and urge action against it.
It was the first Nobel Peace Prize to climate campaigners, though the 2004 prize went to Kenya's Wangari Maathai for her work to get women across Africa to plant trees -- an earlier expansion of the concept of peace to environmental work.
Gore, age 59, said he was deeply honored to win and said he would donate his share of the prize money to the Alliance for Climate Protection, a bipartisan non-profit organization.
"This award is even more meaningful because I have the honor of sharing it with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -- the world's preeminent scientific body devoted to improving our understanding of the climate crisis -- a group whose members have worked tirelessly and selflessly for many years."
IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri said he was overwhelmed.
"I can't believe it, overwhelmed, stunned," Pachauri told reporters and co-workers after receiving the news on the phone at his office in New Delhi.
"I feel privileged sharing it with someone as distinguished as him," he added, referring to Gore.
The IPCC groups 2,500 researchers from more than 130 nations and issued reports this year blaming human activities for climate changes ranging from more heat waves to floods. It was set up in 1988 by the United Nations to help guide governments.
In the run-up to the announcement, speculation that Gore could win the Nobel prize prompted questions about whether it could lead Gore to join the 2008 race for the White House.
Monica Friedlander, founder of the group www.draftgore.com seeking to get Gore to run, said it would now "be very difficult for him to say no".
"He's in a position to make a big difference," she said.
The scope of the prize established by the 1895 will of Swedish philanthropist and inventor of dynamite Alfred Nobel has expanded over the decades from its roots in peacemaking and disarmament to human rights from the 1960s, to work for the environment and the fight against poverty.
Congratulations poured in from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barros, U.N. Environment Program chief Achim Steiner, environmental groups and others.
The Nobel prize is worth 10 million Swedish crowns ($1.54 million) and will be handed out in Oslo on December 10.