Many people working on climate change have long dismayed at the apathy on the issue expressed by leading politicians. They talk action but do nothing.
With just months to go to the critical UN climate conference in December, Al Gore came to the UK yesterday and implored the world’s politicians to invoke the spirit of Winston Churchill in the fight against climate change.
The former US Vice-President accused governments around the world of exploiting ignorance about the dangers about climate change to avoid taking difficult decisions, and urged political leaders to follow the example of Britain’s wartime leader in fighting it.
Speaking in Oxford at the Smith School World Forum on Enterprise and the Environment, Gore said: “Winston Churchill aroused this nation in heroic fashion to save civilisation in World War Two. We have everything we need except political will, but political will is a renewable resource.”
Gore said it was difficult to persuade the public that the climate change threat was as urgent as that from Hitler. ‘We can berate politicians for not doing enough, and compromising too much, and not being bold and addressing this existential threat to civilisation.
‘But the reason they don’t is that the level of concern among populations has still not risen to cross the threshold to make the political leaders feel they must address it.’
Gore said that voters needed to tell politicians that they must act strike a new deal at the UN climate talks. “The only way we can get one is if politicians in each country act and the only way that can happen in turn is if awareness rises to the level to make them feel it is a necessity,” Gore said.
He said future generations would put one of two questions to today’s adults. “It will either be ‘What were you thinking, didn’t you see the North Pole melting before your eyes, didn’t you hear what the scientists were saying?’. Or they will ask ‘How is it you were able to find the moral courage to solve the crisis which so many said couldn’t be solved?’”
As if to emphasise the point about political apathy, the government’s former chief scientist, Sir David King, bemoaned the fact that he had asked most of Britain’s leading politicians to attend the meeting and none of them had come.
The President of the Maldives was there. But then he might not have a home for much longer….