Yvo de Boer, UNFCCC Executive Secretary,
introduced 2007 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Al Gore. He highlighted Gore’s role
in raising global public awareness of climate change, and commended him on his
important work, which, he said, inspired people to listen, stop, think and act.

Gore introduced his remarks by stating that humanity has arrived at a moment of
faithful decision. He described the new science on climate change, including
that related to extreme events, tipping points, species extinction, droughts
and floods, and ocean acidification. He said that the science is clear, but a
sharp contrast between two rates of change exists: first, related to the rate
of climate change, and, second, related to the rate of action on climate
change. He noted the level of pessimism at the Poznań negotiations, especially with regard
to: the global recession; the drop in oil and coal prices; the absence of a
feeling of urgency; the gap between rich and poor not being closed with
sufficient speed to build the necessary unity; and the powerful resistance of
business lobbies.

Gore, however, stated that he believed that the causes for hope and optimism
are greater than the causes for doubt and discouragement, such as: efforts in
China related to unprecedented levels of tree planting and a green economic
stimulus package; efforts in Brazil related to halting deforestation; and
technological advances. He noted progressive actions in the US, including California‘s mandatory emissions reductions,
cities embracing the Kyoto Protocol principles, and the cancellation of
proposed coal-fired power plants. He discussed President-elect Obama’s
prioritization of the climate issue, especially with regard to his commitment
to engage in the international climate negotiations.

Gore stressed the need to link poverty reduction with emissions reductions, and
called for adequate funding for adaptation. However, he emphasized that
mitigation is the primary task, adding that without it adaptation would prove
impossible. He called for capacity building in developed countries to overcome
the hurdles that prevented the developed world from acting. He underscored the
challenge inherent in reaching a target of 450 ppm of carbon dioxide, but
argued that the target would need to be toughened to 350 ppm in order to avoid
dangerous levels of climate change.

In conclusion, Gore voiced his confidence in reaching an agreement in Copenhagen in December
2009, and said that "not only can it be done, it must be done." He
stated that reaching agreement was not a political issue, but rather a moral
and spiritual one, and said the climate crisis offered a generational mission
and moral purpose. He called on Heads of State to meet several times before the
Copenhagen negotiations, and concluded by
passing along a message from the people of the US: "Yes we can.