AMerica’s adoption of the first-ever climate legislation will prove a pivotal moment in history that will help end the era of fossil fuels, said Al Gore, the former US vice president.
Joe Biden is about to sign a massive $370 billion clean energy spending package that will see him overcome decades of US political resentment and inaction over the climate crisis. Gore said he was now confident that the fossil fuel industry and its political financiers will not be able to reverse the shift to a low-carbon world, even if Republicans can regain control of Congress or the White House.
“By crossing this threshold we have changed history and we will never go backwards,” Gore told The Guardian in an interview. “I am extremely optimistic that this will be a crucial turning point in our fight to confront the climate crisis.”
While the oil and gas industry is currently making huge profits from rising fuel prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Gore insisted this was “short-lived compared to the big wheel now spinning” on renewable energy.
Solar energy, recently described by the International Energy Agency as the cheapest source of electricity in history, and wind energy have both fallen in price in recent years, and the new US law known as the Inflation Reduction Act is expected to increase these costs further. to lower .
Analysts expect support for renewable projects, along with significant investment to boost U.S. production of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries and other components, could help make technologies more readily available to other countries as well.
“This is momentum that I think will be unstoppable,” Gore said. “The savings for consumers will be so impressive, and so massively deflationary, that people will not support politicians who want to bring us back. We’re not going back.”
The legislation narrowly passed the US Senate on Sunday and is expected to be relaxed Friday by the House of Representatives, controlled by Democrats, before being signed by Biden. Democrats needed all 50 senators to vote in the face of the unified Republican opposition, which required compromises on a deal struck with Joe Manchin, a centrist Democrat who receives more money in political donations from the fossil fuel industry than any other senator. then.
This fraught process, which seemed doomed at various times during a year of negotiations, followed repeated failures over many years by the US political establishment to deal with the climate crisis, despite the US releasing more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. than any other country in history.
Gore was a 33-year-old member of Congress when, in 1981, he hosted what was considered the first climate change hearing with lawmakers. Despite pushing for action in the 1980s and 1990s, including his time as vice president in Bill Clinton’s administration, Gore, who is now 74, has seen multiple attempts at legislation fail and the subject becoming politically toxic to conservatives, even as the evidence of catastrophic damage from global warming has increased.
“I never thought I’d devote my life to this,” says Gore, who wrote the Inconvenient Truth about global warming in 2006. The book was turned into a documentary and resulted in winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.
“I thought, naively in hindsight, that if the facts were set out so clearly, we would be able to act much more quickly,” he said. “I did not expect the fossil fuel industry to spend billions of dollars on an industrial-scale program of lies and deception to prevent the body politic from acting rationally. But here we are, we are finally over that threshold.”
Gore said the Senate’s approval of the legislation, a moment that brought several Democratic senators to tears, was a “celebratory and joyful moment,” but stressed that the bill itself will not solve the climate emergency.
While the breakthrough is expected to help the US cut its emissions by about 40% by the end of the decade, scientists have warned that the country, like almost every other country in the world, is still cutting emissions far too slowly to prevent catastrophic levels of global warming.
“We can’t let this be a once-in-a-lifetime moment,” Gore said. “The Path to Net Zero” [emissions] requires us to move forward and much of the hard work lies ahead.”