Gore Predicts Shift in Bush Climate Policy
OSLO Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore predicted on Tuesday that President George W. Bush would shift to do more to fight global warming, under Republican pressure from California to New York.
"I think there is a better than 50-50 chance that President Bush will change his policy in the next two years," Gore told an audience in Oslo after showing his documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" about global warming during a tour of Europe.
"Many of his strongest supporters are changing their positions and are becoming vocal in asking him to change," Gore told about 300 people including Norway's Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and Environment Minister Helen Bjoernoy.
The United States and Australia are the only two industrial nations outside the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol, which caps emissions of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels burned in factories, power plants and cars.
Bush, who narrowly beat Democrat Gore in the 2000 election and will stand down in January 2009, has said Kyoto's curbs would harm the U.S. economy and unfairly exclude poor nations from a first set of targets to 2012, by which time 35 nations will have to cut emissions by 5.2 percent below 1990 levels.
Gore praised California for passing the first bill in the United States to cap emissions after a deal between Republicans and Democrats last week. The bill aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions by about 25 percent, back to 1990 levels by 2020.
He also said many right-wing Christian religious leaders, major business leaders and mayors of cities from Seattle to New York were seeking cuts in emissions of carbon dioxide in a break with the Bush administration.
"We are still a ways away from the critical mass that's necessary (to change U.S. climate policy) but we are getting there," Gore said. "There is a burden of implausibility that the President is now carrying with his position."
Many scientists say a build-up of heat-trapping gas will bring more droughts, heatwaves and powerful storms, spread deserts and could raise sea levels by almost a metre by 2100.
Bush said earlier this year the United States should break an "addiction" to oil but has rejected Kyoto-style caps. The administration is investing heavily in clean technologies, such as hydrogen, and says more climate research is needed.
If Bush did not shift, Gore said it was very likely the next U.S. president would do more to cut emissions. Gore has said he has no plans to run again but has not ruled it out.
Earlier in Helsinki, he said drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions were vital.
"Unless we stop dumping 70 million tonnes of global warming pollution into the atmosphere every 24 hours, which we are doing right now ... the continued acceleration of this pollution would destroy the future of human civilisation," Gore said. (Additional reporting by Sakari Suoninen in Helsinki)