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The president has faced rising public pressure in the wake of superstorm Sandy to deliver on his promise to act on global warming.But none of those calling on Obama to act carries the moral authority of Gore, who has devoted his post-political career to building a climate movement.
The vice-president's intervention for a carbon tax could give critical support to an idea that has gained currency since the election – at least among Washington thinktanks. The conservative American Enterprise Institute held an all-day seminar on the carbon tax on Tuesday.
"I think all who look at these circumstances should agree that president Obama does have a mandate, should he choose to use it, to act boldly to solve the climate crisis, to begin solving it," Gore told the Guardian in a telephone interview.
"He has the mandate. He has the opportunity, and he has the inherent ability to provide the leadership needed. I really hope that he will, and I will respectfully ask him to do exactly that."
Gore will ratchet up his own pressure on Wednesday evening when he hosts a 24-hour live online broadcast from New York city on the connections between climate change and extreme events such as Sandy.The Dirty Weather Report, produced by his Climate Reality Project, will kick off with footage from New Jersey's devastated shore and interviews with governors Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo. It begins at 8pm eastern time.
In terms of policy specifics, Gore said he wanted the White House and Congress to start an immediate push for a carbon tax. "It will be difficult for sure but we can back away from the fiscal cliff and the climate cliff at the same time," he said. "One way is with a carbon tax."