Energy

Al Gore: Capitalism Needs ‘Deep Reforms’

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor

Former Vice President Al Gore was asked by England’s The Guardian what he thought about Pope Francis’s encyclical on global warming, which has been interpreted to be anti-capitalist. Gore’s response: We need “reformed capitalism.”

Francis’s encyclical was highly critical of the market economy, including how the mass use of fossil fuels was driving global warming. The pope called for an international agreement to curb fossil fuel use to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

While Gore didn’t agree with the pope’s critics of capitalism, the failed presidential candidate argued there needed to be policies to tax carbon dioxide emissions, which would benefit those with green energy interests.

“What I have argued is we need deep reforms in capitalism,” Gore told The Guardian’s Suzanne Goldberg. “The pope in his encyclical said those responsible for harmful pollution should pay the price of that pollution. Well that’s not very different from what many of us have been arguing.”

“I think that some form of market capitalism is at the base of every successful economy in the world today,” he added. “I think that reforms including putting a price on pollution to discourage more pollution is definitely a part of the solution.”

Gore added that he “was absolutely thrilled to the marrow of my bones by the clarity and forecasting of [the pope’s] his moral leadership.”

Gore was not, however, asked what he thought about the pope’s rejection of population control methods to address global warming. Gore himself has pushed for “fertility management” to mitigate warming.

The pope explicitly rejected such methods in his encyclical, sticking to the Catholic pro-life position. Many prominent environmentalists generally support population control methods, like abortion and contraceptives, to curb population growth and stem global warming.

“Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion,” Francis wrote in his encyclical. “How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties?”

“At times, developing countries face forms of international pressure which make economic assistance contingent on certain policies of ‘reproductive health,’” the pope wrote, adding a quote from Catholic social doctrine. “Yet ‘while it is true that an unequal distribution of the population and of available resources creates obstacles to development and a sustainable use of the environment, it must nonetheless be recognized that demographic growth is fully compatible with an integral and shared development.’”

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