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November 4, 2007

Gore Wins Nobel Peace Prize



Al Gore and the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change jointly won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize today for their efforts to spread awareness of man-made climate change and to lay the foundations for fighting it.

Gorewon an Academy Award earlier this year for his film on global warming, “An Inconvenient Truth" and had been widely tipped to win the Nobel peace prize.

He said that global warming was not a political issue but a worldwide crisis: “We face a true planetary emergency. ... It is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity,” he said. “It is also our greatest opportunity to lift global consciousness to a higher level.”

Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN agency, said Gore phoned him soon after learning that they are to share the prize.

“We congratulated each other,” Pachauri told a news conference in Geneva, by telephone link from New Delhi.

He said Gore told him, “We must work together. We should meet as soon as possible.”

Canadian climate-change campaigner Sheila Watt-Cloutier, who was nominated jointly with Gore for the prize, said she was pleased that Gore and the IPCC had won the honour.

“For me, the issue has won, and in fact our own planet Earth is a winner in all of this,” the Inuit activist told CBC-TV from Iqaluit.

“I was a little bit surprised, to be honest, because we have jointly been nominated by two Norwegian parliamentarians,” she added.

“It was more of a surprise than a great disappointment, because I don’t try to put too much expectation on things that are external to my own life. But it certainly would have helped, and in that sense, I think, to continue to put the issue on the map in terms of the Arctic issues and the human dimensions to it — in that respect I have to admit I was a little bit disappointed.”

Gore’s win will likely add further fuel to a burgeoning movement in the United States for him to run for president in 2008, which he has so far said he does not plan to do.

Kenneth Sherrill, a political scientist at Hunter College in New York said Gore probably enjoys being a public person more than an elected official.

“He seems happier and liberated in the years since his loss in 2000. Perhaps winning the Nobel and being viewed as a prophet in his own time will be sufficient,” says Sherrill.

Two Gore advisers, speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to share his thinking, said the award will not make it more likely that he will seek the presidency.

One of the advisers said that while Gore is unlikely to rule out a bid in the coming days, the prospects of the former vice-president entering the fray in 2008 are “extremely remote.”

In its citation, the committed lauded Gore’s “strong commitment, reflected in political activity, lectures, films and books, has strengthened the struggle against climate change. He is probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted.”

Ole Danbolt Mjoes, chairman of the prize committee, said the award should not be seen as singling out the administration of President George W. Bush for criticism.

“A peace prize is never a criticism of anything. A peace prize is a positive message and support to all those champions of peace in the world.”

Bush abandoned the Kyoto Protocol because he said it would harm the U.S. economy. The treaty aimed to put the biggest burden on the richest nations that contributed the most carbon emissions.

Gore called the award meaningful because of his co-winner, calling the IPCC the “world’s pre-eminent scientific body devoted to improving our understanding of the climate crisis.”

The committee cited the IPCC for its two decades of scientific reports that have “created an ever-broader informed consensus about the connection between human activities and global warming. Thousands of scientists and officials from over 100 countries have collaborated to achieve greater certainty as to the scale of the warming.”

It went on to say that because of the panel’s efforts, global warming has been increasingly recognized. In the 1980s it “seemed to be merely an interesting hypothesis, the 1990s produced firmer evidence in its support. In the last few years, the connections have become even clearer and the consequences still more apparent.”

Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, said the prize would help to continue the globally growing awareness of climate change.

“Their contributions to the prevention of climate change have raised awareness all over the world. Their work has been an inspiration for politicians and citizens alike,” he said in a statement.

The Nobel Prizes each bestow a gold medal, a diploma and a $1.5 million cash prize on the winner.

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