Indian officials who negotiated the Paris climate accord have disputed one of the chief claims former Vice President Al Gore made in the sequel to his 2006 documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.”
Gore appeared to suggest in “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” that he brokered a deal on solar panel technology with India that helped save the Paris climate accord. But one of India’s lead negotiators on the Paris accord talks told reporters Tuesday that neither he nor his colleagues remember Gore’s deal being the glue that saved the agreement.
“I am not aware of any such linkage, and neither are my colleagues in the negotiating team,” Ajay Mathur, who led negotiations in India, told reporters at E&E News. “None of us recall any discussion in the negotiating team on any such linkage; I don’t recall an offer of solar technology being discussed at all.”
He was referring to a portion of the film that depicts Gore trying to convince former SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive to grant India free use of a patented solar panel material if the country would let the deal go forward. “Give it some thought, my friend,” Gore tells Rive in the film.
Gore presents a type of quid pro quo in a phone call to India’s Energy Minister Piyush Goyal, in which he claims SolarCity’s offer is good “if in return for this India removed its potential objections to the climate treaty.”
Rive eventually approved the move and traveled to Paris, where U.N. special adviser, Robert Orr, said he presented the idea to then-U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for his blessing. SolarCity has not responded to reporters’ request for comment – the idea does appear to have started with Gore.
Then-Secretary of State John Kerry, who led the negotiations for the U.S., raised Gore’s suggestion during discussions with Goyal. India was one of the last holdouts in the Paris deal, haggling over various disagreements before the country eventually hammered out the accord in December of 2015.
President Donald Trump eventually withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate accord, which obligated the country to reduce its carbon emission levels by 30 percent of 2005 levels. It’s primary mission is to keep the Earth’s temperature to 2 degrees Fahrenheit.
Gore spokeswoman Betsy McManus told reporters that only Goyal and then-U.N. environmental minister Prakash Javadekar were the people involved in the discussions, so Mathur might not be privy to all the pertinent parts.
The film’s two directors, Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, traveled to India with the former vice president as he gathered material for the move. They never interviewed any Indians at the heart of the matter before making the SolarCity deal a primary focus in the documentary, Cohen told E&E News.
Shenk and Cohen chose not conduct interviews, because they wanted to simply observe Gore as he moved about the country. “Other than Al’s kind of personal thoughts about his life and the climate crisis and his solutions, there really aren’t third-party interviews in the film,” Shenk said.
Gore has been criticized recently for making a series of lofty and inaccurate predictions about what could happen if the U.S. does not get serious about climate change. “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace, for instance, confronted the former politician for claiming that unless drastic action was taken humanity would face a “true planetary emergency” in the next decade.
Wallace pointed out that it has been 11 years since Gore made the claim in his 2006 film “An Inconvenient Truth,” and there doesn’t seem to be a planetary emergency.
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