Al Gore comes to Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 August, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 August, 2006, 12:00am

A five-minute primer on an issue making headlines

Al Gore, the former American vice-president and the Democrats' presidential candidate in 2000, is coming to Hong Kong next month.


Mr Gore has become a crusader against global warming and has released a book and documentary about it titled An Inconvenient Truth. The book is already on sale in Hong Kong and the movie premiere will be held on September 12.

What's so inconvenient about this truth then?

Apparently it's pretty scary stuff, with scientific logic and straightforward arguments pointing towards an impending global catastrophe. It calls on people to scale back the use of carbon in their daily lives. This is fairly inconvenient to anyone who likes to drive, fly, enjoy air-con or heating or electricity, as well as being none too popular with oil companies, coal-burning energy firms and, of course, Mr Gore's rival for president, George W. Bush.

Where can we see the film?

Investment bank CLSA is sponsoring the premiere at the Convention and Exhibition Centre and has invited Mr Gore to speak at its investors' forum. The film will be on general release at 10 cinemas in Hong Kong throughout October.

Why has Mr Gore jumped on environmental issues? Is this his eco-bid for the next presidential election?

Actually, Mr Gore was on the green bandwagon before it even really started rolling. At Harvard in the 1960s he studied under Roger Revelle, the scientist who first claimed carbon emissions caused global warming, and he helped negotiate the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emission in 1997. Since his controversial loss to Mr Bush in the 2000 presidential election, he's been concentrating on green issues, giving more than 1,000 talks around the world on the subject.

He gives talks around the world? So I guess he usually flies. Doesn't flying release more carbon into the air than almost anything else?

Air travel is one of the fastest-growing contributors to global warming. Mr Gore says he offsets his carbon emissions by giving money to carbon-reduction schemes in eastern Europe and India.

Has he abandoned all political ambitions?

His decision not to run for president in 2004 surprised many supporters and he said earlier this year he had no intention of running in 2008, but he hasn't ruled out a future in politics.

Do we care whether he brings his message on rising temperatures to Hong Kong?

In a city where pollution levels seem to climb ever higher as the government makes half-hearted promises to clean the air, there's a chance his visit might stir some interest. In fact, Mr Gore is due to meet four green groups during his two-day visit, so they should have plenty to say to each other.