Gore enters bushfire climate debate

4:28am October 24, 2013
October 24, 2013: Environmental activist and former US vice president Al Gore has likened climate change and extreme fire events to the link between smoking cigarettes and cancer.

Tony Abbott's insistence that bushfires aren't linked to climate change is like the tobacco industry claiming smoking doesn't cause lung cancer, Nobel laureate Al Gore says.

In light of the NSW bushfire disaster, the former US vice president says the prime minister's comment that bushfires are a function of life in Australia and nothing to do with climate change reminds him of politicians in the US who received support from tobacco companies, and who then publicly argued the companies' cause.

"For 40 years the tobacco companies were able to persuade pliant politicians within their grip to tell the public what they wanted them to tell them, and for 40 years the tragedy continued," Mr Gore told ABC TV's 7.30 program from Los Angeles on Wednesday night.

"And bushfires can occur naturally and do, but the science shows clearly that when the temperature goes up and when the vegetation and soils dry out, then wild fires become more pervasive and more dangerous.

"That's not me saying it, that's what the scientific community says."

Mr Gore says it's a political fact of life that politicians and commercial enterprise collude to achieve goals after he was asked if there was a conspiracy between polluters and politicians.

Al Gore in Melbourne in 2009. (AAP)
Al Gore in Melbourne in 2009. (AAP)

"I don't think it's a commercial conspiracy. I think it's a political fact of life," he said.

"It certainly is in my country. In the United States, our democracy has been hacked.

"Special interests control decisions too frequently. You saw it in our recent fiscal and debt crisis.

"The energy companies, coal companies and oil companies particularly, have prevented the Congress of the United States from doing anything meaningful so far, to stop the climate crisis."

The Nobel laureate says Australia's new direct action strategy was not workable.

"The meaningful way to resolve this crisis is to put a price on carbon and in Australia's case, to keep a price on carbon," he said.

He argues the price needs to be at an effective level with the market sending accurate signals so that renewable systems of energy are encouraged.

© AAP 2014
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