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Why Al Gore is on board with the Green New Deal

Al Gore.
Al Gore. Photo: Matthias Nareyek/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures

KATOWICE, Poland — Al Gore sat down with Axios for an exclusive interview at the annual United Nations climate confab, which this year is being held in this old coal-mining city.

Why he matters: The former vice president and long-time climate activist has been influential in raising awareness on climate change for decades and for what critics describe as polarizing the issue. Here are excerpts of our nearly 30-minute interview.

Gore recently endorsed the Green New Deal, a progressive, broad-brush outline of policies aimed at deeply cutting emissions while boosting employment, and a call for 100% renewable electricity.

“If done correctly, it’s part of the answering to the growing inequality. The so-called green new deal, whatever the details turn out to be, could create millions of jobs spread around every community in the U.S., and more than that around the world.”

When I said there aren’t many details of the policy, Gore responded: “I don’t know what the details are either.” He said he endorsed it because he thinks “the broad outline is pretty clear: create lots of jobs in pursuing this transition to a sustainable economy.”

Here at the climate conference, concern is growing among some nations and activists about to what extent the Trump administration is lowering ambition for the Paris Climate Agreement. President Trump has vowed to withdraw the U.S. from that deal, but Gore doesn’t think ambition is waning.

“I think people are acting in [spite] of President Trump. I think that the midterm elections were numerically the biggest repudiation of a sitting president in the history of U.S. midterm elections. I think that Donald J. Trump has become the global face of climate denial.”

Gore said he wasn’t concerned that an Australian government official spoke in support of the Trump administration’s event earlier this week at the confab backing cleaner fossil fuels.

“I think the current government of Australia may not be long for this world.”

What’s next: Gore is referring to an election next spring for the next prime minister of Australia. Gore said the more progressive party is ahead in the polls.