Al Gore Highlights Need for Decisive Political Action on Climate Change

  • world economic forumExtreme weather events are driving awareness
  • UN summit is an opportunity for decisive action
  • The theme of the 44th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting is, The Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business
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Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, 22 January 2014 – Al Gore, Vice-President of the United States (1993-2001) and climate change activist, told participants at the 44th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos that he believed political momentum was building towards action on climate change.

“We’re getting closer to a political tipping point,” Gore said. “These extreme weather events, which are now 100 times more common than 50 years ago, are really capturing people’s attention.”

He praised the climate change initiatives of business leaders but underscored the need for decisive political action. “Even with business leadership we will need governmental actions,” he said. “We need to put a price on carbon. We need to put a price on denial in politics.”

Gore’s comments come in the run-up to the United Nations Climate Change summit in September. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, speaking on the same panel, issued a plea to global leaders to seize the opportunity presented by the summit.

“Instruct your negotiators with firm and decisive action,” he said. “Our objective is to raise political will and to catalyse ambitious and decisive actions on the ground.”

Gore and Ban Ki-moon were speaking on a panel which included William H. Gates III, Co-Chair, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, USA; Jim Yong Kim, President of The World Bank; Ngozi Okojo-Iweala, Co-ordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance of Nigeria; Paul Polman, Chief Executive Officer of Unilever; and Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway.

On the question of whether a renewed emphasis on climate change might detract from the agenda to tackle global poverty, Gates said he saw no conflict. “I don’t think it’s necessary that focusing on climate change should take away from the development agenda.”

Polson echoed these comments, saying: “We need to break the paradigm that we cannot alleviate poverty and solve climate change.”

New partnerships and approaches will be needed to realize this agenda, several participants noted. The World Economic Forum’s New Vision for Agriculture initiative, which has mobilized diverse stakeholders to partner and commit over US$ 5.7 billion towards sustainable agricultural development in 14 countries, works to increase farmer incomes, food security and environmental sustainability simultaneously. Over 100 leaders committed to intensify and expand the initiative’s work in a meeting earlier today.

The Annual Meeting 2014 is taking place from 22 to 25 January under the theme, The Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business. Participating this year are over 2,500 leaders from nearly 100 countries, including 300 public figures, 1,500 business leaders and representatives from civil society, academia, the media and arts

The Co-Chairs of the Annual Meeting 2014 are: Aliko Dangote, President and Chief Executive Officer, Dangote Group, Nigeria; Kris Gopalakrishnan, President, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII); Vice-Chairman, Infosys, India; Jiang Jianqing, Chairman of the Board, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, People’s Republic of China; Joseph Jimenez, Chief Executive Officer, Novartis, Switzerland; Christophe de Margerie, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Total, France; Marissa Mayer, Chief Executive Officer, Yahoo, USA and Judith Rodin, President, Rockefeller Foundation, USA.