Former VP Al Gore on environmentalism, Trump, and the climate crisis – full, extended transcript

In this expanded transcript of his interview with correspondent Lee Cowan, former Vice President Al Gore talks about how he came to preach the dangers of the climate crisis; his new film, “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power”; and of training people to speak out for solutions as carbon polluters and their lobbyists ratchet up their efforts to spread disinformation. He also discusses his (unsuccessful) efforts to persuade President Trump to keep the United States within the framework of the Paris Climate Agreement.

LEE COWAN: Let’s talk about the obvious, which is the Paris Climate Accord. I mean, what do you think is the practical implication of us pulling out? I mean, have we ceded, in some ways, our leadership on climate control by doing that?

AL GORE:  Well, traditionally the United States has been the natural leader of the world. That’s not just pride as an American speaking; it’s just the reality. And so without the U.S. being involved, it’s hard for the world community to move forward as effectively. However, the backlash and reaction to President Trump’s decision has really brought the rest of the world more firmly behind the Paris Agreement.

LEE COWAN:  It’s galvanized a lot of people.

AL GORE:  It’s galvanized the rest of the world. And it’s galvanized a lot of states, and cities, and business leaders here in the U.S. So one of the big fears was that if he pulled out it would give an excuse for other countries like India, for example, to pull out also. But instead it has actually galvanized a lot of these other countries to say, “Well, we’ll show him. We’re gonna even more!” India’s just announced within the last couple weeks that within 13 years 100% of all their cars have to be electric vehicles. That’s amazing! And they’re canceling all these coal plants and ramping up on the solar, and that’s happening in lots of places now.

LEE COWAN: So it’s almost like pulling out [gave] impetus to change that you talk about — that sometimes you really need a jolt to something.

AL GORE: Yeah, I think so. There’s always a risk of being Pollyannaish on some of these things. But honestly, that is the way it looks now. The rest of the world is expressing determination to go even farther even faster, and that’s a really good thing. Those who were worried the U.S. would be isolated, there are some dangers there. But it’s really the president who’s more isolated now in the aftermath of this. At least that’s what it looks like to me.


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