Former Vice President Al Gore talks climate change solutions in the Twin Cities
Former Vice President Al Gore comes to Minnesota. I'm N._P._R.. Chief meteorologist Paul Hutton here. This is climate gas. He's arguably the most important historical figure in expanding climate change awareness in America <hes> and the world his two thousand six film an inconvenient truth introduce climate change science and solutions to millions. His work earned the Nobel Peace Prize this weekend former Vice President Al Gore is here in Minnesota training twelve hundred climate activists through his climate reality project. He sat down with me at the event in Minneapolis Mr Gore thanks for taking the time to talk with us on climate cast today and hey welcome to Minnesota. It's great to be back. You know you're here in the the twin cities this weekend for this climate reality project training event. Why did you start climate reality and what does this accomplish well because I came to the conclusion Susan that the only way we can change policies in time to solve the climate crisis is with grassroots pressure from every state in our country from every county and so I decided when my first movie came out I used one hundred percent of the profits from that movie and the book to <hes> to set up the climate reality project and to mobilize Aisa thousands of people tens of thousands of people to put pressure on their elected representatives and business leaders and civic leaders and community leaders nice to to make the changes that we need to make let's go back thirty one years ago this Summer Nastase Dr James Hansen testifies before your your committee in Congress and he says there's a ninety nine percent degree of confidence for a cause and effect relationship between the greenhouse effect and observed warming? How important was that testimony in your path to climate change awareness well? I think that was an important moment. <hes> in making lots of people realize is that this is for real and we need to do something about it unfortunately in the wake of that hearing and the others that I and other members of Congress Health <hes> the fossil fuel <hes> industries took the playbook prepared by the tobacco companies companies back when the doctors and scientists say hey folks <hes> smoking cigarettes causing lung cancer or disease and they hired actors dressed up as doctors and put him on T._V.. To falsely tell people that there was no health problem at all well that same blueprints what's been used by the fossil fuel companies with the point of bring that up is in a healthy democracy where the truth was turned into power testimony like that of Jim Hansen you asked about would have led to dramatic policy changes reason it hasn't is because of the political influence of the coal companies the oil companies in the gas companies but we're gaining on them and these grassroots activists including an impressive number of them here in Minnesota are really making progress ars you talk about policy. You came within a whisker of the presidency in President Gore I like to think it would have been completely and totally different of course in our country. A president has to persuade the Congress Congress and asked to be a skillful politician and getting support for his or her initiatives but I like to think I would have been able to to put in completely different policies that would help to avoid some of this <hes> heartache and hardship and I still think we can do that. We've lost some ground for sure. Some damage has been made inevitable now unfortunately but we still have time to avoid the most catastrophic consequences so rather than looking back and crying over spilt milk as they say. I look forward and try to figure out what I can do to serve in different way. Just watch you give what we might. Call the talk talk at this climate reality event not that dissimilar from the one you used in an inconvenient truth but how has your presentation changed in the thirteen years since the the movie is changed dramatically in a lot of ways because I can bring up examples of floods or droughts or storms or whatever whatever not from ten years ago but from yesterday or last week and literally every night on television news is like a nature ager. I threw the book of revelation and the examples that illustrate all of what the scientists have been warning us about are all around us now every single day. I think that does make an impression on people I know it. Does it makes an impression on me. Yeah I WANNA get your assessment of where we are with the big big picture on climate change today. We're seeing the positive side rapid progress on solutions like renewables Minnesota here. We generate twenty five percent of our electric power. You're from renewables as you know last year. That's way faster than people thought it would happen fifteen years ago. Public opinion is shifting. We know that a little bit and yet greenhouse gas emissions are still rising globally and this administration is basically a wall or going backwards on solution so what's the right urgency level here and what's your assessment of how this plays out for the next ten to twenty years the dramatic truth is that those of us who are alive today we have in our hands decisions to make that will have enormous consequences for thousand generations to come. Tom and that sounds overly dramatic but it's the case. We're putting one hundred ten million tonnes every day of this heat. Trapping pollution into the sky stays there for a thousand years on average and it's trapping so much extra heat <hes> the amount of extra heat energy every day is equal to five hundred thousand or Rocha uh-huh class atomic bombs exploding every day. That's crazy but that's what we're doing. Now what I think you're getting at in the first part of your question is how do we see this. They're contracting interesting trend some good some bad <hes>. We're gaining momentum for the solutions but we're not yet gaining on the crisis crisis because the crisis is still getting worse faster than we are mobilizing solutions yet because we're gaining momentum we may soon have within our capacity the ability to gain on the problem there was a famous economists in the last century name. Rudy Dornbush who once said things take longer to happen than you think they will but then they happen much faster than you thought they could. I think think that it's likely to be true. Where are solutions to this crisis. It's taken longer than many of us thought. It would hoped it would anyway but. But I think that we're now getting to the point where it could happen faster than anybody can imagine to take one example <hes> when the cost of electricity <hes> pity from solar and win gets not only cheaper than electricity from Cohen Gas but way cheaper then no matter how much political political power the fossil fuel companies have it would just take a complete idiot to continue spending way more money than necessary to create dirtier and expensive electricity when you can have it for much cheaper when cleaner air and more jobs and I think we're right in that region now where we're going to see see this flip over and more rapid change. I hope that I'm not pollyannish or overly optimistic but that's the pattern I see unfolding right now. Let's talk about about how that seems to be happening a little bit. I mean if you look at investors. The big insurance firms Swiss re Munich REC- this changing catastrophic loss model we saw P._G.. Any go bankrupt <hes> because of the fire liability in California right. I mean some saying that's the I fortune five hundred climate bankruptcy. How important is this growing investor risk awareness in driving that positive change you talk about Oh. I think it's extremely important there was a story this this morning about the largest private investor black rock losing many billions on fossil fuel investments and they're still the largest fossil fuel in bed. I'm not picking on my in respect them a lot but there so many investors who are taking a close look at the fact that these carbon assets <unk> are really not that different from the subprime mortgages of a few years ago you know there were seven and a half million subprime mortgages meaning mortgages that it looked as if they were triple. A. Rated assets with a value that was based on <hes> false assumptions when actually they were worthless because they'd been given out to people that couldn't make monthly payments and good make down payments and there was a mass delusion and people finally pull pull back the layers of the onion enough to see the truth of it and they suddenly collapsed and that's what caused the credit crisis and then the great recession well. We've now got twenty two trillion dollars worth of carbon assets the reserves of coal and oil and gas and the stocks and these as multinational companies that are based on the assumption that all that fossil fuels going to be burnt well it can't be burn won't be burned not just because of some mm treaty or some law but because solar and wind is going to be much cheaper and efficiency is reducing the demand for what they're selling an electric cars or a progressively destroying the market for liquid petroleum assets and it's only a matter of time before they wake up to this the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world the Norwegian Fund which got all his money from oil and gas. They're really smart. They just announced they're going to divest one hundred percent for from oil and gas assets a so those who are taking the time to read the handwriting on the wall are coming to the conclusion that they need to get with this change and move onto into renewables and the sustainability revolution.