Nobel laureates propose global CO2 tax
By Lisbeth Kirk
While the international community struggles to reach agreement on how to further tackle climate change at a meeting in Bali, former US vice president Al Gore and the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have received the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to increase knowledge about the effects of human activities on global warming.
"We have a window of nearly seven years, said IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri, who accepted the prize on behalf of the panel in the Norwegian capital of Oslo.
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"The time to doubt science is over", he said, adding that by 2015 at the latest green house gasses must start declining if the world is to escape a climate catastrophe.
Thousands of scientific experts have worked on the panel since 1988 and brought forward more and more evidence of human activities causing climate change.
Experts estimate that 20 percent of greenhouse gases alone comes from raising animals for human consumption.
When asked what he does on a personal level to fight climate change, Mr Pachauri said he wears warm clothing, is a vegetarian and takes care to limit his use of electricity.
Meanwhile, Mr Gore said that "the threat of climate crises is real, rising, imminent and universal" in his acceptance speech before over 400 prominent Norwegians and leading members of the climate panel.
Mr Gore and Mr Pachauri, an Indian scientist, are going directly from the celebrations in Oslo to join the Bali conference.
"We need to complete a bold mandate there next Friday [14 December] that calls for a visionary treaty to be completed, ratified and brought into effect everywhere in the world by the beginning of 2010 – more than two years sooner than presently contemplated" Mr Gore said.
He said that world leaders must meet every three months until such a new treaty is completed.
The 2007 Nobel laureates also suggested a price on CO2 pollution "so that the markets can help us make rational decisions about how to sharply reduce it".
"The problem with CO2 is it is completely invisible to the economy", Mr Gore said.
"I'm strong in favour of a CO2 tax - a large one, with the money raised given back in a progressive repay. If you want to cut your tax, you cut your pollution," he said.
But he said he did not think the UN would be "capable" of managing such a tax.
In around six months China is expected to pass the US and become the world's largest CO2 emitter.
"Both countries should stop using each other's behaviour as an excuse for stalemate", Mr Gore said.
"We have everything we need to get started, save political will, and political will is a renewable resource", he said.
The Nobel prize for 2007 is worth 10,000,000 SEK. ($1.5 million) and has been awarded since 1901, often to people having ended conflicts and war, such as Nelson Mandela and Frederik Willem de Klerk in 1993 and John Hume and David Trimble in 1998 for finding a peaceful solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland.
But in the past couple of years, people preventing conflicts and working for sustainable development have been awarded.
"It is a long time since the committee was concerned with such fundamental questions as this year", the Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee Ole Danbolt Mjøs said in his speech to the laureates.