Climate Change Gore

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, founder of the Climate Reality Project, speaks with youth climate activists durung a panel discussion on global climate, Friday, March 15, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

ATLANTA — Former Vice President Al Gore believes the U.S. is nearing a political tipping point, with the 2020 Democratic presidential field offering voters the chance to replace President Donald Trump with someone “committed heart and soul” to combating climate change.

Gore, who emerged as a leading climate activist after losing the 2000 presidential election, told The Associated Press in a Friday interview that he won’t take sides in his party’s wide-open nominating fight.

But he said he’s talked to several candidates privately and is “encouraged” by what he’s hearing publicly, noting that “at least 10” have declared climate action a top priority, while Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has put the issue at the center of his bid.

“We need a new president, and we need a president committed heart and soul to the climate crises,” Gore said during an activist training conference in Atlanta hosted by his nonprofit, nonpartisan Climate Reality Project. “I’m very happy that so many of the Democratic candidates have made it clear that’s the way they would intend to govern if they won.”

Trump’s presidency “is unfortunate in so many ways,” Gore said, but he also credited Trump’s open contempt of the scientific consensus that human activity affects the Earth’s atmosphere with pushing many moderates and even some conservatives toward the more traditional liberal activists on the issue.

Gore, 70, added that public opinion is moving so quickly that a new president could find the political muscle for sweeping action. “Even people who used to want to deny it in the past are saying, ‘Hey, hold on ... I’ve had enough of this,’” he said, citing rising sea levels, droughts and an uptick in “once-in-1000-year” storms.”

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