TORONTO — Shortly after the U.S. election, Al Gore paid a visit to Donald Trump hoping to find common ground on a subject in which their views could not differ more: climate change.
“That was not the only conversation — I’ve continued the dialogue since he went into the White House,” Gore said in a recent interview for his new climate-change documentary “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.”
“I thought there was a chance that he might come to his senses and stay in the Paris Agreement but I was wrong, and I haven’t talked to him since.”
In “An Inconvenient Sequel,” the former U.S. vice-president is seen walking into Trump Tower for the off-camera, post-election meeting with Trump. The U.S. president’s presence looms large in the followup to 2007 Oscar winner “An Inconvenient Truth,” with the inclusion of his skeptical statements on climate change featured in the film.
The U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate-change accord is among a series of moves made by Trump to undo the environmental legacy of his predecessor, Barack Obama. Changes include rescinding the plan looking to curb carbon emissions from coal-burning power plants, and reversing a moratorium on leasing federal lands for coal mining. Trump has also proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget.
“He’s trying to do a lot of damage, and he’s surrounded himself with a rogues’ gallery of climate deniers for sure, but we have some resilience in the U.S. system,” said Gore, pointing to lawsuits filed by environmental groups and moves by the courts to curtail Trump’s environmental agenda.
“I was concerned that other countries might pull out (of the Paris Agreement) and use him as an excuse. But I was immediately gratified when the entire rest of the world redoubled its commitment to solving the climate crisis, staying in the Paris Agreement, almost as if the world was saying: ‘Well, we’ll show you, Donald Trump,’” he added.
“Right after that, so many of the governors and mayors and business leaders in the U.S. said they’ll fill the gap, they’re still in the Paris Agreement. And now we’re going to meet the commitments of the U.S. in spite of Donald Trump.”
The new documentary picks up a decade after “An Inconvenient Truth,” which saw Gore preaching the gospel of climate change with a science-based travelling slideshow. “An Inconvenient Sequel” shows Gore imparting his message at leadership training sessions around the world. It also documents meetings with political leaders to discuss measures for greater environmental efficiency.
“I have had, at times, as anyone does who works on climate, a dialogue between hope and despair; but I always come down on the side of hope and now it’s pretty easy because the solutions are here.”
Since the release of “An Inconvenient Truth,” documentaries like Leonardo DiCaprio’s ”Before the Flood” have also turned their lenses on climate change. Gore said he isn’t concerned that individuals are tuning out or fatigued by the discussion; if anything, the Nobel laureate believes the topic has assumed greater prominence.
“I think a lot of people are coming to it for the first time because there is a new participant in the discussion with a voice more persuasive than any other I’ve heard — and that’s Mother Nature,” said Gore. “The extreme weather climate-related events have become so much more numerous and so much more destructive.
“More Canadian troops had to be sent to B.C. to help fight the fires there. Lots of big fires are raging. Today in the United States, more than 100 new ones today in California alone. This is happening all over the world, as are the floods and the mudslides and the droughts and the sea level rise and the tropical diseases spreading northward; and unfortunately there are lots of other unwelcome consequences.
“Every night on the TV news is like a nature hike through the Book of Revelation. Even if the media doesn’t connect the dots, individuals are.”
“An Inconvenient Sequel” opens Friday in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, and expands to other cities on Aug. 11.