Al Gore praises Obama administration's power plant emissions proposal in speech at Princeton

PRINCETON, N.J. – Former Vice-President Al Gore praised the Obama administration’s plan announced Monday to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants over the next 15 years.

He said the symbolic value was more important that the reduction of emissions that could follow. “It re-establishes the moral authority on the part of the United State of America in leading the world community,” Gore said, addressing this year’s graduates at Princeton University.

He said it helps set the tone for talks next year on global climate change talks.

Gore, a leading advocate on climate issues, spoke Monday in New Jersey at Princeton’s Class Day, a mostly whimsical celebration the day before the Ivy League school’s commencement ceremony. He was named an honorary member of the graduating class and given a Princeton “beer jacket” with the class’s logo.

Gore, who has been mocked as dull, joked that he fit right in with a list of past Class Day speakers including Bill Cosby, John Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Until 2000, the day was one for awards and a speech by a Princeton faculty or staff member. But since 2001, the event has become a headliner of the university’s commencement festivities with celebrity speakers chosen by the graduates. Former President Bill Clinton has been among the non-comedians to speak there.

Gore was selected for his role in making climate change a mainstream issue. It’s hardly the first place to recognize him for that. He has won a Nobel Peace Prize and Academy Award for the same thing.

Gore was introduced Monday by new Princeton graduate Taylor Francis, whom Gore said he has known for years, since Francis was 14 and became the youngest member of Gore’s Climate Reality Project.

The former vice-president did have a few laugh lines in his half-hour talk, including when he talked about how the world has changed since he graduated from Harvard in 1965. Then, he said, “You could expect that without a doubt, the coming fall, Harvard would beat Princeton in football.”

Princeton won the schools’ game last year.


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