Al Gore addresses University of Melbourne staff and students

July 15 / 163

Former US Vice President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore and a group of University of Melbourne PhD students. Photo: Paul Burston
Former US Vice President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore and a group of University of Melbourne PhD students. Photo: Paul Burston


University of Melbourne staff and students were offered an exclusive opportunity on Monday to hear former US Vice President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore speak in an update to his influential 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth.


Tickets to On the Climate Crisis and the Case for Hope – offered exclusively to the University’s staff and students – sold out within four minutes, reflecting the university community’s great interest in climate change, but also unfortunately leaving many who missed out disappointed.


Hosted by the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, Mr Gore delivered a presentation on the impacts of and solutions to the climate crisis in the lead up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP21, in Paris in December, where a new global climate change agreement will be negotiated.


Mr Gore spoke of the ‘danger and opportunity’ presented by the climate crisis. 


He said the crisis came down to the fundamental question of whether human beings can change their ways to lessen the impacts, many of which are already being felt around the globe. 


“Mother Nature is now answering the question of do we need to change and the answer is yes,” he said. 


“There have been massive climate events, some larger than have ever occurred.”


However, the presentation focused on hope. Mr Gore highlighted the amazing momentum occurring around the world in switching to renewable energy technology and the vast number of new jobs in these industries that had been created, 6.5 million in Germany alone.


“Coal is dead in the United States,” he declared. 


When questioned by a PhD student on how the Paris talks might unfold, he said while there may still be reluctance from world leaders to budge on climate action, eventually it would happen.


“After the last no, there will be a yes,” he said. 


Mr Gore has an ongoing relationship with the University and, in particular, the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute. Don Henry, a Public Policy Fellow at the University, is a member of the Board of Directors of The Climate Reality Project and serves as a key climate advisor to Vice President Gore.


Mr Gore spoke with PhD students and also attended a roundtable discussion on Monday with leading climate and energy researchers from the University of Melbourne, Monash University and ANU, as well as leaders in business, government and environmental groups.


Discussions included an update on research being conducted by MSSI for the Climate Reality Project on the case for climate action by key countries in the lead up to the COP21 in Paris later this year.  Other key topics discussed included emissions reduction targets, the role of sub-national governments and cities in climate action and strategies for maximising private sector investment.


For more details on Mr Gore’s talk please see Cathy Alexander’s piece in The Conversation.


Story by Claire Denby and Jane Gardner 

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