On 28 January 2009, former Vice President Al Gore testified before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on what needs to be achieved in Congress prior to a United Nations meeting on climate change in December 2009. Gore’s testimony included an updated version of his famous slideshow on the evidence for and perilous impacts of global climate change. Gore also offered suggestions for Congress on what needs to be accomplished prior to the Copenhagen meetings if the United States wants respect from other countries during the treaty negotiations: pass President Obama’s stimulus package and institute a cap-and-trade system for carbon dioxide emissions later this year. When questioned how Americans could afford to reduce global warming gases during an economic crisis, Gore responded “It may be a classic turn of phrase, but I think the better question is, ‘How can we afford not to do this?’” He also stated that, “The solutions to the climate crisis are the very same solutions that will address our economic and national security crises as well.”

The Committee’s ranking Republican, Richard Lugar (IN), asked Gore why the Senate should approve whatever agreement comes out of the Copenhagen negotiations when over a decade ago they voted unanimously against the Kyoto Protocol. Gore replied that the political climate is different now then it was at the time of the Kyoto vote. Developing counties such as Brazil, China, and Indonesia “that were once reluctant to join in the first phases of a global response to the climate crisis have themselves now become leaders in demanding action and taking bold steps on their own initiatives,” he said. The former Vice President added that the scientific consensus has solidified to an extent that wasn’t present in the early 1990’s. Gore stated, “The scientists are practically screaming from the rooftops.”


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