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Al Gore: 'Coal Is Dead in the U.S.'

Former Vice President Al Gore speaks at the Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training south of Manila on March 14, 2016. (Photo by George Calvelo/NurPhoto)

WASHINGTON – Former Vice President Al Gore called for the U.S. government to put a price on carbon and “accelerate” the transition to green energy “dramatically.”

He also told the audience that “coal is dead in the U.S.”

“We need a price on carbon. I’m thrilled China is installing a cap-and-trade system nationally next year. So many other jurisdictions are doing this. States like California are leading the way, but we need policy to price carbon and to get rid of the subsidies still on carbon-based fuels,” he said at the Climate Action Forum in Washington.

“We’re subsidizing carbon-based fuels globally at a rate 40 times larger than the meager subsidies for renewables. It’s insane and that’s now getting some welcome attention. But we need to accelerate this transition dramatically.”

Gore, who won an Academy Award for his 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth, said the “entire world” should model itself after Chile, where the solar market is growing. During the event, Gore put up slides that showed the Chilean government approved more solar projects in 2016 compared to previous years.

“The economics are working for them; they love this. There’s public opposition in Chile to new coal plants,” Gore said.

“This is the opportunity to save the economy, and a side benefit would be to save the future of civilization,” he added.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, coal and natural gas each represented 33 percent of U.S. electricity generation in 2015 followed by nuclear at 20 percent and hydropower at 6 percent. Renewables including biomass (1.6 percent), geothermal (0.4 percent), solar (0.6 percent) and wind (4.7 percent) represented a total of 7 percent.

“We are entering the era of renewables, and it’s a very exciting new reality,” he said.

Gore said changing America’s energy policies to combat climate change would ultimately “save” civilization. Gore’s recommendations included “de-carbonization, renewable energy, batteries, energy storage, sustainable forestry and sustainable agriculture.”

“There are ways to do it. We know how to do it, but we need to clear away the obstacles. As I said, put a price on carbon and markets, and put a price on denial and politics. I think that denial is now kind of fading a little bit, but it comes back in different forms,” Gore said.

“Our work has barely begun but we are going to win,” he added.