NASHVILLE, Tenn. Former Vice President Al Gore launched a three-year, multimillion-dollar advocacy campaign Monday calling for the U.S. to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
The Alliance for Climate Protection's campaign, dubbed "we," will combine advertising, online organizing and partnerships with grass-roots groups to educate the public about global warming and urge solutions from elected officials.
"We're trying to get a movement happening to switch public opinion so that our leaders feel, 'Wow! We really need to make this a top priority issue,"' alliance CEO Cathy Zoi told The Associated Press.
An advertising campaign will equate the climate-change movement with other grand historic endeavors, like stopping fascism in Europe during World War II, overcoming segregation in the United States and putting the first man on the moon.
Some advertisements will feature bipartisan pairs, such as the Rev. Al Sharpton with Pat Robertson and Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with former GOP Speaker Newt Gingrich, Zoi said.
Robertson spoke Monday on "The 700 Club," his long-running Christian news and talk show, about his involvement, saying he was honored to be asked by Gore to participate.
"It's just common sense that we ought to be good stewards of the environment and do everything within our power to protect this fragile planet that we all live on," he said.
Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler said the former congressman is participating because he agrees on the need for a bipartisan approach to climate change. In Gingrich's new book, "A Contract with the Earth," he argues that conservatives are natural environmentalists.
Prominent Republicans also serve on the alliance's board of directors.
"This is not only an environmental issue. It's an issue of energy independence and it's an issue of national security," said Lee Thomas, head of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Ronald Reagan. "We need to all come together on this and the time to move on it is now, not later."
The alliance will initially spend $300 million over three years, although Zoi said more could be spent in the future.
Some of the money for the campaign comes from Gore himself. Zoi said he contributed his personal profits from the book and movie "An Inconvenient Truth," a $750,000 award from his share of the Nobel Peace Prize and a personal matching gift. She declined to provide the total amount.
"When politicians hear the American people calling loud and clear for change, they'll listen," Gore, the former Tennessee senator and 2000 presidential candidate, said in a statement. Gore's staff did not respond to calls seeking further comment.
Zoi says research suggests that many Americans are concerned about climate change but don't know what to do about it.
The "we" campaign Web site hopes to change that by offering ideas on conserving energy at home and work and guidance for those who want to do more, like writing to their elected officials.
"Some steps can be taken by individuals, but the biggest, most important decisions are going to be coming from government and corporate leaders," Zoi said. "We need to have people saying, 'We want you to take bold steps."'The campaign is also working through partnerships with groups like the Girl Scouts. The group's 2.7 million members will take a climate action pledge and the alliance will provide them with kits offering suggestions for projects they can do in their neighborhoods.
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