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Al Gore backs Rudd

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Climate Change

Al Gore

Credit: Wikimedia

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Kevin Rudd's climate change legislation might not be perfect but Al Gore says it should be passed because it moves in the right direction.

On his visit to Australia this week, the former US vice president said American legislation curtailing greenhouse gas emissions also had shortcomings, but, like the Australian bill, it was a step towards securing a treaty in Copenhagen cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Gore said both the US and Australia had come a long way to addressing the climate crisis. There had been massive changes since the time John Howard and George W. Bush were in power.

"We can solve this crisis,'' he said. "We have everything we need to do so with the possible exception of political will but in the United States and Australia, we know that political will is a renewable resource," Gore said.

He said politicians generally struggled with the issue of climate change.

"Response to a problem planetary in scale is quite difficult for politicians to consider and I say this as a recovering politician myself. It's a particularly difficult challenge because the way our minds and brains and ways of thinking have developed over the eons is that we are best at responding to emergencies that are similar to the ones our ancestors confronted and survived.

"When there is a much more serious threat that can only be perceived by relying on science, that kind of response is more challenging because it requires deliberation, it requires reasoning, it requires communication, and then it requires resolve.

"Politicians in almost every nation have been timid. There are some honourable exceptions - your Prime Minister and many of your government are now beginning to respond - but world wide in every country, even the most forward leading responses fall short of what the scientists are telling us is truly necessary."

He said the solution to the problem had to come from the grass roots.

"When political leaders in nations all around the world are trying to decide whether or not it's politically safe for them to move beyond the pollsters say is safe, one way political leaders in every nation can get the backbone is if the leaders of society take the time to learn for themselves and speak up."

Gore was in Australia launching Safe Climate Australia, a non-government body modelled on his think tank Repower America which is pushing for the United States to be on 100% clean energy within a decade.

The climate campaigner said tackling the climate crisis was no longer about protecting future generations.

Its impact was being felt right now, with ferocious fires, rising sea levels from melting ice caps and, for the first time, tropical diseases, such as dengue fever, spreading into temperate regions, he said.

Gore said the crisis also represented a great opportunity to build a safe and strong economy based on renewable resources. Australia was in a strong position with its resources in wind, solar and new forms of energy.

"When we make up our minds to act, we will unleash a source of creativity and innovation,'' he said. "It won't be easy, it won't be without controversy but men and women of good will are more than up to the task."