‘No such thing as ethical oil,’ Al Gore tells Toronto audience – by Ivan Semeniuk (Globe and Mail – May 8, 2013)

Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

Declaring that “American democracy has been hacked,” former U.S. vice-president Al Gore told a Toronto audience that his countrymen needed to wake up to the special interests that have a grip on the levers of power in the U.S. Congress and are able to block legislation on a range of policy issues including his signature cause, global climate change.

Mr. Gore added that he felt action on climate change was possible, indeed inevitable, once it was viewed by enough people as a matter of personal values. “When these kind of issues settle into a choice between right and wrong, then the moral clarity that eventually develops makes it possible to move quickly.”

In a public interview with The Globe and Mail’s editor-in-chief, John Stackhouse, Mr. Gore also spoke of his wish that U.S. president Barack Obama would cancel the Keystone XL pipeline intended to transport heavy crude from the Alberta oil sands to U.S. refineries. In part because oil-sands crude requires more energy to extract than conventional sources, and so produces more greenhouse gases per barrel, he suggested that the full social and environmental cost of developing the oil sands made it a more expensive proposition than a faster move by the U.S. to renewable sources.

When Mr. Stackhouse asked whether Alberta oil was more ethical because it came from a democratic nation with a commitment to human rights, Mr. Gore rejected the term.

“There’s no such thing as ethical oil,” he said. “There’s only dirty oil and dirtier oil.” The remark triggered applause from a nearly full house at the Globe-sponsored event at a Ryerson University auditorium.

Mr. Gore added that he fully understood the economic drivers behind the Keystone pipeline and conceded he did not know how Mr. Obama would ultimately decide.

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