Former vice president Al Gore told ABC's Jonathan Karl in an interview on Sunday's "This Week" that saying the U.S. must "bear the brunt" of the global response to climate change is a mischaracterization.
"A word like 'brunt' implies that it's a painful and costly transition," Gore said. "This is where the economic growth of the future is to be found. So, it's not as if we are taking on this huge burden. We're doing things that are benefiting us in other ways anyway."
AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: There's both bad news and good news. The problem is getting worse faster than we are mobilizing to solve it. However, there is also good news. We now have an upsurge in climate activism at the grassroots in all 50 states here in this country and in every country in the world.
JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: What do you say to those that say that even if the United States gets to zero carbon emissions, it can only have a limited impact if China, India, and the developing world doesn't change, it’s not going to address the problem.
GORE: Well, first of all, it's certainly true that it's a global crisis that requires a global response with every nation being involved. But secondly, we are still in an era of history where the United States of America, and only the United States of America, can provide the necessary leadership to rally nations around the world to do the right thing.
KARL: You know the argument, because you've heard it many times, of conservatives who say look, why should the United States bear the brunt of this?
GORE: A word like brunt implies that it's a painful and costly transition...
GORE: When in fact, this is the best way to create millions of new jobs.
This is where the economic growth of the future is to be found. So, it's not as if we are taking on this huge burden. We're doing things that are benefiting us in other ways anyway.
KARL: You said back in 2006 that the world would reach the point of no return if drastic measures weren't taken to reduce greenhouse gases by 2016. So here we are. We already -- is it already too late?
GORE: Well, some changes unfortunately have already been locked in place. Sea level increases are going to continue no matter what we do now, but we can prevent much larger sea level increases, much more rapid increases in temperatures.
The heatwave was in Europe, now it's in the Arctic, and we're seeing huge melting of the ice there. So the warnings of the scientists 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago unfortunately were -- were accurate.
Here's the good news, Jonathan, in the Democratic contest for the presidential nomination this year, virtually all of the candidates are agreed that this is either the top issue or one of the top two issues.