Donald Trump “cannot rewrite history”, and no matter what he says or does the Paris Agreement to limit climate change will survive and is even stronger as a result of Trump’s rejection. This is the verdict pronounced by a former U.S. vice-president turned climate campaigner as Al Gore spurns Trump for a failed attempt to derail the energy revolution.
Speaking in London Thursday, Gore said: “I was worried when the president of my country announced he was making an announcement about climate change, that if he hauled the US out of the Paris Agreement other nations would use it as an excuse to follow.
“There has been no such cascade. Indeed, no-one else has left. What we have seen is increasing support for the agreement from across the world, and within the U.S. expressions of solidarity from American governors, mayors and business.
“No matter what President Donald Trump says, no-one can stop the energy revolution now.”
Gore was speaking at the Royal Geographical Society in London at a ceremony to present the 2017 Ashden Awards. Ashden gives financial prizes and practical assistance to organisations across the world which promote renewable energy, providing cleaner air and sustainable transport. So far 200 groups, improving the lives of 80 million people, have been honoured.
Gore, who first came to the Ashden Awards ten years ago, served as U.S. vice-president for eight years from 1993, and represented the US in Japan when the Kyoto Protocol was signed in 1997. He was also present at the conclusion of the Paris Agreement in 2015.
He now campaigns on climate issues and, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.
Gore told the Ashden winners that the sustainability revolution, as he called it, was one of the great moral causes of human history. It was like many of the movements of the past – the abolition of slavery, winning women’s suffrage, ending apartheid in South Africa and gaining civil rights in America.
People said it could not be done, it met all kinds of fierce resistance, but in the end these causes triumphed.
“It boils down in the end to what is right and what is wrong. It is clearly wrong to destroy the Earth for future generations. It is wrong to use the sky as an open sewer. It is right to give future generations hope and to give them a clean and sustainable future.”
In a direct repudiation of President Trump’s own view of climate change, Gore said the overwhelming scientific evidence was that global warming was already here and a dangerous threat to the Earth.
“The greatest advocate of all, Mother Nature, is telling us what a mess we are creating”, Gore said. He spoke of how the Earth’s water cycle was being disrupted, sea levels were rising and diseases spreading.
Bypassing fossil fuels
But he believed it was possible to change and to save the situation. Human civilisation had begun with the agricultural revolution, then in the 19th century the industrial revolution, followed in our lifetimes by the digital revolution. Now it was the sustainability revolution that was under way.
It was happening across the world in rich and poor countries alike. Solar power was bringing electricity to parts of the world that had never seen electric light. People in parts of Africa and Asia were bypassing the fossil fuel age altogether.
For a long time, Gore said, it had seemed that change was too difficult to achieve and could not be completed in time to avoid catastrophe. But then things had begun to “move much faster than you thought they ever could.”
He described the strides being made in China and India on renewable energy, particularly on adopting solar power and producing electric cars. “Already we are seeing carbon dioxide emissions stabilise. There is a hint they are beginning to decline. Maybe we have just reached the tipping point,” he said.