Gore says world faces "fateful decision" on global warming
Cheered like a superstar, former US vice president Al Gore told climate negotiators Friday they faced "a moment of fateful decision" in saving the planet from global warming and urged them to finish a treaty within a year, dpa reported.
Gore, who shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his campaign to draw attention to the issue, painted a grim picture of changes blamed on a hotter planet: melting glaciers, expanding deserts, flooding and stronger storms.
Addressing UN climate talks, he lashed out at rich countries as obsessed with celebrities rather than focussed on "a moral issue ... that affects the survival of human civilization."
"We have to overcome the paralysis that has prevented us from acting and focus clearly and unblinkingly on this crisis, rather than spending so much time on OJ Simpson, Paris Hilton and Anna Nicole Smith," he told delegates wrapping up a 189-nation conference at Poznan, Poland.
Gore said he was cheered by Barack Obama's election as US president and his growing sense that all countries, not just industrialized ones, realize they must cut emissions of gases blamed for global warming.
He urged rich and poor countries to overcome disputes and meet their goal of concluding a deal to cut emissions next December in Copenhagen.
"I believe that the causes for hope and optimism are greater than the causes for doubt and discouragement," Gore said. "Let's finish this process at Copenhagen. Don't take the pressure off. Let's make sure we succeed."
Delegates and environmentalists hungry for star power after two weeks of slow-moving talks rewarded Gore with two standing ovations, whoops and cheers.
Some of the longest applause came when he evoked Obama's pledges to open a "new chapter" in US policy after the Bush administration and engage the United States "vigorously" in global warming negotiations.
He also praised clean-air measures by China such as a 600-billion- dollar economic stimulus package that includes "green" incentives.
China, "once seen by many as a looming obstacle," is now helping lead efforts "toward a solution of the crisis," he said.