Al Gore: Kudos to Peru for democracy and economic boom; all the better to confront global warming threat

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore urged Peru on Wednesday to focus its demonstrable economic prowess on achieving clean energy technologies, not only  because the mega-diverse Andean nation is particularly vulnerable to global climate change, but because doing so simply makes good business sense.

Gore, the winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work on climate change, made his appeal during the keynote presentation for the conference sponsored by 3R3 (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle): Towards a Green Peru Environmental.

“I want to talk to you today about the climate crisis and I want to put some of these thoughts in the context of the challenges you are facing here in Peru,” Gore told the audience.

“Peru is famous for being a nation known for its mega-diversity. I know that the number of living species here is almost unparalleled in the world,” Gore said. “And of course as a citizen of the United States, I have paid attention to the growing eco-tourism that is flourishing in Peru; also the incredible variety of organic products and the unique cuisine here.”

Peru is home to 70 percent of the world’s tropical glaciers, but global warming has melted away one fifth of that ancient ice mass in just the last 35 years — reducing by 12 percent the fresh water flow to the coast, where the majority of Peruvians live, Gore noted.

Andean glaciers could be gone within 20 years, he added, threatening the water supply for 77 million people in the region, and also reducing hydro-power production, which accounts for about half of electricity generated in Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia, according to a 2009 World Bank report.

He also said Peru’s vast Amazon basin must be better preserved and protected because of its vital role scrubbing the atmosphere of CO2 and producing the world’s oxygen.

Gore called for creating a direct tax on carbon dioxide emissions to address the climate crisis, saying the most important solution to global warming is to put a price on CO2 through a tax that can be applied directly to the population as an incentive to create energy technology.

He congratulated Peru for its sustained economic growth under stable democratic institutions over the last decade.

“You have stayed on a steady course that has now created economic conditions that the rest of the world is noticing and admiring,” Gore said. “Perhaps not too many years from now, people will look back and talk about the Peruvian miracle.”

But he said Peru should take advantage of its economic situation, particularly during a time when much of the rest of the world is still trying to recover from global economic crisis, and apply itself to “thinking green.”

“Many, if not most companies trying to establish leadership in combating global warming, have found that clean technologies are good for their operations as they have benefited in many ways including better brands and a great reception from consumers,” he said. “One reason to adopt more modern approaches and efficient technologies is that they can simultaneously reduce both pollution and waste, while improving efficiency and profits.”

Another presenter during the conference, conservative political economist Francis Fukuyama, called on Peru to provide greater attention to addressing social challenges and reducing poverty following the country’s economic success, state news agency Andina reported.

During a conference in Lima, Fukuyama said it will be difficult for Peru and other Latin American regions to maintain high economic growth rates if it does not invest in human capital.

“The break in Peru and Latin America will be human capital, which is very important for development,” he said, adding that the quality of education has not improved at the same rate of economic growth in the region.

Fukuyama called on Peru to diversify its economy from commodities, which have been the backbone of its economic boom.

“It is a problem that has to be dealt with at the political level because the price of commodities can be affected if there is a global economic slow down, above all in China. So Peru should diversify its exports.”

Peru’s economy has seen high growth this year as it recovers from a slowdown in 2009. The International Monetary Fund is forecasting its GDP to rise by 8.3 percent in 2010, while the World Bank has predicted a 7.5 percent increase.

Excerpts from Gore’s Speech: “Thinking Green: Economic Strategy for the 21st Century”

“I have been greatly looking forward to this speech. I am very impressed with the activities that have been taking place during this conference. I have learned a lot about the activities underway in Peru  and I complement you on all of the progress that has been made here.”

“I want to talk to you today about the climate crisis and I want to put some of these thoughts in the context of the challenges you are facing here in Peru.”

“Of course I know that you feel probably very proud of the great resources that you have here. This is one of the nations in the entire world with the most diversity. Peru is famous for being a nation known for its mega-diversity. I know that the number of living species here is almost unparalleled in the world. And of course as a citizen of the United States I have paid attention to the growing eco-tourism that is flourishing in Peru. Also the incredible variety of organic products and the unique cuisine here.”

“It is not for me to say, but I certainly believe that the record of the last several years here in Peru is quite an astonishing one and a very successful one. Three presidents from three different parties, many different ministers and central bank policy and all through this long period you have stayed on a steady course that has now created economic conditions that the rest of the world is noticing and admiring. Perhaps not too many years from now people will look back and talk about the Peruvian miracle.”

“The poverty rate, while still a source of distress, has come down and exports are up and income is up and the growth rate is really very, very impressive. And the rest of the world economy, as you are keenly aware, has gone through a period of disruption with what is known as the great recession, and even though that period, Peru continued to have a positive economic growth rate.”

“This continued, sustained success is the mark of genuine and true progress, across party lines, reflecting a consensus from the main stream of the business community, the society, the university community and the people of Peru. So I certainly want to congratulate you on that.”

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2 Comments

  1. If he would just quit flying all over the world with his personal jet and live in an energy efficient home, and stop all the hot rhetoric. The glaciers would freeze over again.

  2. It is really interesting that Al Gore says, “…of course as a citizen of the United States I have paid attention to the growing eco-tourism that is flourishing in Peru.” Most citizens of the US don’t pay attention to Peru at all. It is very gratifying to see a major player not only in politics but also in the realm of ecological concern to comment on Peru. Thank you for this report.

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