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Is Al Gore adding a lot of hot air to the global warming debate? Trends magazine asks the former vice president whether the political will exists for true action on the environment.
January 24, 2010 4:50 by Christian Malar
Do you think global warming measures will be taken by some rich countries as an excuse to exploit poor countries’ underground resources?
There are many countries bordering the Arctic: the U.S., Canada, Russia, Denmark – [which] has a large claim there because of Greenland – and some other countries. That includes some commercial interests that actually look at the melting of the polar ice cap as an opportunity to explore for oil in areas that have not been accessible in the past.
America and China are the largest carbon emitters on the planet. Obama has suggested 17 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020. Hu Jinto says 40- to 45 percent and India 20- to 25 percent. Can’t we do better than that?
The numbers sound like they’re the same. They’re actually different. What China and India have proposed is a reduction in the intensity of their global warming pollution. In other words, they are proposing to reduce the amount of pollution per unit of economic growth, whereas the U.S. is proposing real reductions in the absolute emissions of global warming pollution.
With America stuck in two wars (in Iraq and Afghanistan), a high unemployment rate that has reached 10 percent, and the current economic crisis, can Americans really be concerned about the environment?
Yes, I think they can because the economic crisis is one that has to be solved with a stimulus that creates more jobs and restores income for people that have lost a lot of money that they need to support their families. And since interest rates are so low, the tools available to governments are now limited and stimulus spending on things like infrastructure have become very popular. To build smart grids to make it possible to use renewable forms of electricity and to bring it from the areas where the sun resource is and the wind resource is high to the cities where it is needed. This creates jobs and also helps to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy.