WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Al Gore pressed lawmakers Wednesday to back President Barack Obama's economic stimulus plan and quickly restrict U.S. output of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.
"In order to repower our economy, restore American economic and moral leadership in the world and regain control of our destiny, we must take bold action now," he said in testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The Nobel laureate, who won an Oscar for his global-warming book turned documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," said Washington had to lead the world heading into global climate talks in Copenhagen in December.
If Congress "acts right away" to pass Obama's stimulus plan and "takes decisive action this year" to cap carbon emissions, the US delegation to the Danish capital will enjoy "renewed authority to lead the world in shaping a fair and effective treaty," said the former vice president.
"And this treaty must be negotiated this year. Not next year. This year," he warned in the written remarks.
"A fair, effective and balanced treaty will put in place the global architecture that will place the world — at long last and in the nick of time — on a path toward solving the climate crisis and securing the future of human civilization," he said.
Gore praised Obama's stimulus plan for including environment-friendly items such as investments in energy efficiency, renewable energy, energy grid improvements and a shift to "clean cars."
"These crucial investments will create millions of new jobs and hasten our economic recovery — while strengthening our national security and beginning to solve the climate crisis," Gore said.
The high-profile appearance came as Democratic lawmakers, bolstered by their broad majorities in Congress and new control of White House, have signalled they will take a more aggressive role in battling climate change than under Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush.
Obama on Monday signed measures to encourage production of fuel-efficient cars and vowing to lead the fight against global warming.
In another sign of change, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton picked a veteran of the Kyoto Protocol talks as her envoy for climate change, as world leaders target a historic global warming pact this year.
Bush rejected the Kyoto Protocol in 2001 dealing a blow to global climate change efforts, warning it would deal damage the U.S. economy and could not work unless global efforts imposed pollution limits on rising powers such as China and India.
The Clinton administration agreed the Protocol in 1997 but never submitted it for ratification by the Senate, where a 95-0 vote before it was finalized found not one senator willing to sign on to its principles.
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