(Jun 15, 2007)

Gore wants environment high on election agenda

By Colleen Barry
From AP

MILAN, Italy (AP) - Al Gore said Thursday that he hoped to push the environmental agenda to the forefront of the 2008 U.S. presidential election _ but probably not as a candidate.

''I don't plan to be a candidate again. I haven't completely ruled out that possibility, but I don't expect to be a candidate,'' Gore told several hundred people, including scientists and university students, at a Benetton-sponsored event organized around an environmental exhibit.

Gore said the political will is lacking to make the kind of commitments needed to combat global warming _ and that climate awareness needs to be spread on the popular level to put pressure on policy makers.

Gore said his stops in Europe _ including Greece and Turkey _ have been aimed at spreading the word about the growing crisis, as are the Live Earth concerts on July 7 in cities around the world: New York; Tokyo; Shanghai, China; Johannesburg, South Africa; Sydney, Australia; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Hamburg, Germany; and Istanbul, Turkey.

Gore said he is seeking to make climate change the key issue in the presidential campaign _ although he declined to comment on any candidate's environmental policy at this stage.

''In general, the debates have not featured prominently an exchange of views on the climate crisis,'' Gore said. ''If I do my job, it will be the No. 1 issue in 500 days.''

But he also urged grass-roots action, saying it will take a ''massive change of public opinion'' for the political establishment to act.

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