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NYT: Gore and U.N. Panel Win Peace Prize for Climate Work

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  • Ram Lau
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/13/world/13nobel.html October 13, 2007 Gore and U.N. Panel Win Peace Prize for Climate Work By WALTER GIBBS OSLO, Oct. 12 —
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 12, 2007
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      October 13, 2007
      Gore and U.N. Panel Win Peace Prize for Climate Work

      OSLO, Oct. 12 — The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded today to Al Gore,
      the former vice president, and to the United Nations'
      Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for its work to alert the
      world to the threat of global warming.

      The award immediately renewed calls from Mr. Gore's supporters for him
      to run for president in 2008, joining an already crowded field of
      Democrats. Mr. Gore, who lost the 2000 presidential election to George
      W. Bush, has said he is not interested in running but has not flatly
      rejected the notion.

      Mr. Gore "is probably the single individual who has done most to
      create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be
      adopted," the Nobel citation said, referring to the issue of climate
      change. The United Nations committee, a network of 2,000 scientists
      that was organized in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization
      and the United Nations Environment Program, has produced two decades
      of scientific reports that have "created an ever-broader informed
      consensus about the connection between human activities and global
      warming," the citation said.

      Mr. Gore, who was traveling in San Francisco, said in a statement that
      he was deeply honored to receive the prize and planned to donate his
      half of the prize to the Alliance for Climate Protection, a nonprofit
      climate group where he is chairman of the board.

      "We face a true planetary emergency," Mr. Gore said in his statement.
      "The climate crisis is not a political issue; it is a moral and
      spiritual challenge to all of humanity. It is also our greatest
      opportunity to lift global consciousness to a higher level."

      Kalee Kreider, a spokeswoman for Mr. Gore, said he received the news
      with his wife, Tipper, early this morning in San Francisco, where he
      spoke on Thursday night at a fund-raising event for Senator Barbara
      Boxer of California, a fellow Democrat.

      Ms. Kreider said Mr. Gore would hold strategy meetings with the
      Alliance for Climate Protection in San Francisco today and return to
      his home in Nashville over the weekend.

      In New Delhi, Rajendra K. Pachauri, an Indian scientist who leads the
      United Nations committee, said the award was "not something I would
      have thought of in my wildest dreams."

      In an interview in his office at the Energy and Resources Institute,
      Dr. Pachauri cast the award as a vindication of science over the
      skeptics on climate change.

      "The message that it sends is that the Nobel Prize committee realized
      the value of knowledge in tackling the problem of climate change and
      the fact that the I.P.C.C. has an established record of producing
      knowledge and an impartial and objective assessment of climate
      change," he said

      Dr. Pachauri said he thought the award would now settle the scientific
      debate on climate change and that governments would now take action.

      He said it was "entirely possible to stabilize the levels of emissions
      but that climate change and its impact will continue to stalk us."

      "We will have to live with climate change up to a certain point of
      time but if we want to avoid or delay much more serious damage then
      its essential that we start mitigation quickly and to a serious
      extent," he said.

      The Nobel award carries political ramifications in the United States,
      which the Nobel committee tried to minimize after its announcement today.

      The chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Ole Danbolt Mjoes,
      addressed reporters after the awards were announced and tried to
      dismiss repeated questions asking whether the awards were a criticism
      — direct or indirect — of the Bush administration.

      He said the committee was making an appeal to the entire world to
      unite against the threat of global warming.

      "We would encourage all countries, including the big countries, to
      challenge all of them to think again and to say what can they do to
      conquer global warming," he said. "The bigger the powers, the better
      that they come in front of this."

      He said the peace prize is only a message of encouragement, adding,
      "the Nobel committee has never given a kick in the leg to anyone."

      In this decade, the Nobel Peace Prize has been given to prominent
      people and agencies who differ on a range of issues with the Bush
      administration, including former President Jimmy Carter, who won in
      2002, and the United Nations' nuclear monitoring agency in Vienna and
      its director, Mohamed ElBaradei, in 2005.

      In Washington, a White House spokesman, Tony Fratto, was quoted by
      Reuters as saying: "Of course we're happy for Vice President Gore and
      the I.P.C.C. for receiving this recognition."

      Global warming has been a powerful issue all this year, attracting
      more and more public attention.

      The film documenting Mr. Gore's campaign to increase awareness of
      climate change, "An Inconvenient Truth," won an Academy Award this
      year. The United Nations committee has issued repeated reports and
      held successive conferences to highlight the growing scientific
      understanding of the problem. Meanwhile, signs of global warming have
      become more and more apparent, even in the melting Arctic.

      The Norwegian Nobel Committee said global warming "may induce
      large-scale migration and lead to greater competition for the earth's

      "Such changes will place particularly heavy burdens on the world's
      most vulnerable countries," it said. "There may be increased danger of
      violent conflicts and wars, within and between states."

      The Bay Area has been the staging area for an online movement to draft
      Mr. Gore to mount another campaign for the White House. A Web site,
      www.Draftgore.com, claims more than 165,000 signatures and comments on
      an online petition, including several placed early this morning
      congratulating Mr. Gore on his win.

      The same group also placed a full-page advertisement in The New York
      Times on Wednesday, pleading with Mr. Gore to rectify his bitter
      defeat in 2000, when he won the national popular vote but lost the
      electoral college after the Supreme Court ended a recount in Florida.

      "I'll actually vote for you this time," wrote one signee, Joshua Kadel
      of Virginia, on the Web site this morning. "Sorry about 2000!"

      The Gores keep an apartment in San Francisco, where their daughter
      Kristin lives. The city is also the headquarters of Current TV, Mr.
      Gore's Emmy-award winning television and online news venture.

      Others dedicated to the fight against global warming said the winners
      were at the head of efforts to investigate and draw attention to the

      Michael Oppenheimer, an atmospheric scientist who has participated in
      the periodic climate assessments since the early days of the I.P.C.C.
      panel, described the work of the committee, which includes both
      scientists and government officials, as "a beautiful example of a
      largely successful experiment in people coming together to improve

      "The reward reminds us that expert advice can influence people and
      policy, that sometimes governments do listen to reason, and that the
      idea that reason can guide human action is very much alive, if not yet
      fully realized," added Dr. Oppenheimer, who is now at Princeton
      University and previously worked for Environmental Defense, a private
      advocacy group.

      Yvo de Boer, the executive secretary of United Nations Framework
      Convention on Climate Change, which is based in Bonn, Germany, and
      oversaw negotiations that led to the Kyoto Protocol, said recent moves
      by political leaders around the world to find ways of reducing
      emissions would have been hard to imagine without the contributions
      made by both the I.P.C.C. and Mr. Gore.

      "We can recommend ways for policy makers to move forward, but without
      the I.P.C.C. data being there, this would be next to impossible," Mr.
      de Boer said. He said Mr. Gore could use his enhanced stature from
      winning the Peace Prize to focus on parts of the developing world
      where politicians need support to spread knowledge about the dangers
      of climate change. "It's very difficult to advance on these issues
      without support from the general public," he said.

      Jan Egeland, a Norwegian peace mediator and former senior United
      Nations official for humanitarian affairs, called climate change more
      than an environmental issue.

      "It is a question of war and peace," Mr. Egeland, now director of the
      Norwegian Institute of International Affairs in Oslo, told the
      Associated Press. "We're already seeing the first climate wars, in the
      Sahel belt of Africa." He said nomads and herders were in conflict
      with farmers because the changing climate had brought drought and a
      shortage of fertile lands.

      From the 1980s onward, many scientists and international affairs
      experts considered the prospect that long-lived gases from human
      activities could warm the earth to be a threat to global security as
      well as the environment.

      The first large scientific meeting on the issue, the Conference on the
      Changing Atmosphere, was held in Toronto in 1988. It was also the
      first meeting to bring together scientists and government officials on
      a large scale to discuss research pointing to dangerous warming from a
      buildup of greenhouse gases.

      The conference concluded with a statement saying: "Humanity is
      conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment
      whose ultimate consequences could be second only to a global nuclear war."

      Its "call to action" included a recommendation that the main
      heat-trapping gas, carbon dioxide, to be cut by 2005 to 20 percent
      below 1988 levels — a target far more ambitious than anything later
      discussed in United Nations climate-treaty talks and missed long ago.

      The intergovernmental climate panel's four reports, the first
      published in 1990, have provided the underpinning for international
      negotiations leading to the first climate treaty, with only voluntary
      terms, in 1992 and the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the first accord with
      binding terms, but with limited support and a 2012 expiration date.

      Jesse McKinley contributed reporting from San Francisco, Somini
      Sengupta from New Delhi, Andrew C. Revkin from New York, and James
      Kanter from Paris.
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