OSLO (AFP) — Global markets could become a leading tool for halting global warming, former US vice president Al Gore said on Sunday, a day before he was to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on climate change.
Gore, who will receive the prestigious prize along with the United Nations' top climate panel, called for taxes on carbon dioxide emissions and the creation of a global emissions trading market to help stem global warming.
"We have to find a way to enlist the energy and vitality of the market in helping us to reduce CO2 (carbon dioxide)," which most scientists agree causes global warming, Gore told throngs of reporters.
"The problem is CO2 is completely invisible to the economy. The economists call it an externality which means 'forget about it' and yet what we're forgetting about is posing a great unprecedented threat to the future of our civilization," Gore cautioned, pointing out that "more money is allocated by markets in one hour than by all governments in the world in one year."
Gore, who is due to travel later this week to Bali where world leaders are trying to lay the groundwork for a new international initiative to combat climate change after the current phase of the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012, said it was essential for each country to tax CO2 emissions.
"I am strongly in favour of a CO2 tax," he said, adding that he would also like to see global caps on pollutants and a worldwide emissions trading market.
Experts see carbon trading as one of the most effective ways of combatting global warming, by allowing countries that pollute beyond their allowance under the Kyoto Protocol on climate change to buy carbon credits from those countries that have stayed within their target range.
Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of this year's other Nobel laureate the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) -- a UN body of about 3,000 experts -- meanwhile said he was optimistic that the world would soon agree to act to fight climate change.
"There is an enormous understanding of the scientific facts when it comes to climate change ... The signals that came from the leaders (gathered in Bali) ... were very clear and uniformally so: that the time for doubting the signs is over. What we need now is action," he said.
Gore, whose film "An Inconvenient Truth" won him an Oscar earlier this year, agreed: "It is my great hope that the meeting in Bali will result in a strong mandate empowering the world to move forward quickly to a new treaty."
Experts predict climate change will disproportionately affect poorer countries and communities, and Gore insisted on the need for solidarity in the fight against global warming.
He quoted US civil rights champion and Nobel laureate Martin Luther King Jr., who said "that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere", insisting that "in the same way CO2 increases anywhere are a threat to the future of civilisation everywhere."
In what could possibly be seen as a sign of the warming times, Oslo's streets on Sunday remained conspicuously bare for this time of year despite a few drifting snowflakes.
Gore, who has reinvented himself as a climate warrior since failing in his bid to become US president in 2000, also reiterated that he had "no plans to be a candidate" in next year's presidential elections in the United States, but refused to rule out re-entering politics in the future.
The former US vice president hailed the "rising of the world's first people power movement on a global basis" to fight climate change and "demand that political leaders take action," but lamented that "this has not yet resulted in changes in the White House."
The laureates will receive the Nobel Peace Prize along with a diploma and combined prize money of 10 million Swedish kronor (1.5-million-dollar, 1.1-million-euro) at a ceremony in Oslo city hall on Monday.
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