31 Jan 2013

Al Gore: George Osborne ‘seriously misinformed’

Former US vice-president Al Gore tells Channel 4 News the UK is wrong to believe green policies conflict with business, and that he is worried about anti-green “influences” in the Conservative party.

Al Gore said there were “such hopeful signs” when David Cameron first came into power, when the prime minister made a pledge to be “the greenest government ever”.

But since the coalition has been in power, these hopes have not been realised: “I have worried that there are influences in his party that have backed him off,” Mr Gore added.

The former US vice-president under Bill Clinton pointed to last year’s flooding in the UK and high temperatures in the US as signs of climate change, and said he was amazed that it was not raised as an issue during the US presidential elections or during the presidential debates.

Asked what he would say to Chancellor George Osborne, Mr Gore said that sustainability is about supporting business in the future.

“Sustainable business prosperity really has to be based on a view of the future that is grounded in facts,” he said, later adding: “It is short-sighted to believe that the future of business and the future of the environment are in conflict”

Mr Gore is no stranger to campaigning on green issues. And as if climate change wasn’t a big enough topic, his new book, The Future, covers everything from how computers are changing the human experience to the main drivers of social change.

He is also hugely wealthy. Forbes estimates the former US vice president is worth around $300m. Much of that is down to an estimated $100m gross profit from the sale of Current TV to the broadcaster Al-Jazeera.

However, this has led to accusations of hypocrisy against Mr Gore: the Arab world broadcaster is funded by the Qatari government, which is hugely wealthy because of oil reserves.

“The government of Qatar with its oil and gas reserves sponsored and started Al Jazeera,” he acknowledged, “but Al-Jazeera deserves to be recognised for what it is. It has done a truly outstanding job.”

He rejected any criticism and denied hypocrisy, saying that critics were merely “attacking the messenger”.

Mr Gore’s new book assesses the pace of what he calls “revolutionary change” and forecasts the emerging forces which will shape the world. As someone who was on the front line of America’s global policy for years, the book assumes that leadership from the US is the world’s best hope.

“The US remains the indispensible nation,” he told Channel 4 News, arguing that neither the EU, nor China, Russia or Brazil, has the capacity for global leadership.

“If that sounds like it comes from too much pride in country,” he adds, “I guess I’ll have to own up to that.”