April 24, 2009 / 7:03 PM / 10 years ago

Gore pushes for U.S. climate law this year

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Global warming activist Al Gore on Friday urged passage this year of a U.S. law to slash greenhouse emissions, saying failure to pass legislation could cause the collapse of world climate negotiations.

Former Vice President Al Gore testifies about climate change at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 28, 2009. REUTERS/Larry Downing

Gore, the former U.S. vice president and star of the Oscar-winning documentary film “An Inconvenient Truth,” told members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that passing a climate law is a “moral imperative” that will affect U.S. standing in the world community.

“Once we find the moral courage to take on this issue, the rest of the world will come along,” Gore said. “Now is the time to act before the world gathers in Copenhagen this December to solve the crisis. Not next year, this year.”

He said that the passage of this bill would be met with “a sigh of relief” at the Copenhagen meeting aimed at crafting a follow-up agreement to the carbon-capping Kyoto Protocol.

If it fails to pass, Gore said, “I think that would be awful to contemplate ...

“If the administration went to this global negotiation without this legislation, then I think we might well see a slow-motion collapse of the (climate change) negotiations.”

The United States is seen as a lead actor in global climate talks, notably at a State Department meeting in Washington next Monday and Tuesday of the 17 countries that emit the most greenhouse gases. These include rich countries like the United States, Japan and members of the European Union, along with such fast-growing developing economies as China and India.

In the fourth straight day of climate hearings on Capitol Hill, Gore praised the carbon-capping legislation crafted in the Energy and Commerce Committee for its plan to rapidly introduce new green technologies that will create new jobs.

Gore, a former Democratic senator from Tennessee, appeared with former Senator John Warner, a Virginia Republican, who helped shepherd a carbon-cutting bill to the Senate floor last year. The bill ultimately died on a procedural maneuver, but paved the way for this year’s effort.

The bill now being crafted in the House of Representatives is based on a cap-and-trade system, favored by President Barack Obama, to cut U.S. emissions by roughly 15 percent by 2020 — back to 1990 levels.

Editing by Eric Walsh

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