With an impassioned plea for climate action on Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry is the highest-ranking U.S. official to attend the annual U.N. Climate Change Conference since President Obama took part in the 2009 Copenhagen talks. While Kerry spoke for 30 minutes, he never addressed an issue on the minds of many: the proposed Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline. Kerry must make a final recommendation to Obama about whether the $8 billion pipeline should be approved. Amy Goodman speaks to former Vice President Al Gore, who attended Kerry’s speech, about why he wants Obama to reject the Keystone XL. She then tries to raise the issue with Kerry and top U.S. climate negotiator Todd Stern, but both refuse to answer.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: Just before Kerry spoke, I had a chance to briefly interview former Vice President Al Gore, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on climate change.
AMY GOODMAN: Vice President? Hi, I’m Amy Goodman from Democracy Now!
AL GORE: Hi.
AMY GOODMAN: Your thoughts on the Keystone XL?
AL GORE: I’m not—well, I’ve been opposed to it for a long time, and I think it’s a terrible idea. When, you know, junkies use veins in their toes when the ones in the arms and legs collapse, that’s my view of it. But—
AMY GOODMAN: Have you major recommendations clear to President Obama?
AL GORE: Oh, of course, yeah. Of course. But I’m not—
AMY GOODMAN: And do you know which way he’ll go on it?
AL GORE: What’s that?
AMY GOODMAN: Do you know which way he’ll go on it?
AL GORE: No, I don’t. But if I—
AMY GOODMAN: What do you think—go ahead.
AL GORE: I kind of think that he will not approve it. I’ve thought that for a while.
AMY GOODMAN: And if he does, what will it mean for the climate?
AL GORE: Well, let’s hope he doesn’t.
AMY GOODMAN: What would it mean for the climate if it were approved?
AL GORE: Well, it would mean a large new supply of very high-carbon energy, of course, so it’s a bad idea.
AMY GOODMAN: Can I ask you a quick question on another issue? On this—
AL GORE: I’m not doing interviews. The secretary’s coming in. And—
AMY GOODMAN: OK.
AL GORE: OK, thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: OK, thanks.
AMY GOODMAN: After Secretary of State Kerry’s talk, where he spoke so powerfully about the importance of taking climate change seriously, I put the same question to him as I did to Al Gore. Kerry looked over, but he didn’t respond.
HANDLER: Sorry, this isn’t a press conference. I’m sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED: I just want to get a little—
HANDLER: That’s perfectly fine, totally understand, but I’m sorry. We’re not going to [inaudible] questions.
AMY GOODMAN: Secretary Kerry, Keystone XL?
HANDLER: Thank you very much.
AMY GOODMAN: Your view on it?
HANDLER: Thank you very much.
AMY GOODMAN: So I caught up with the man who introduced John Kerry, U.S. chief climate negotiator Todd Stern.
AMY GOODMAN: Mr. Stern, Keystone XL?
TODD STERN: Hi.
AMY GOODMAN: Your thoughts on it?
TODD STERN: No thoughts right now. Thanks very much.
HANDLER: Sorry. I’m sorry. Excuse me. Sorry.
AMY GOODMAN: Democracy Now! has been to the last six climate change talks. Stern avoids answering my questions except in press conferences when someone else calls on me and he’s forced to respond. I still put the same question to him as I did to Kerry and Vice President Gore.
AMY GOODMAN: Mr. Stern, every year we try to get a question, and we’re the most faithful news organization in the United states.
TODD STERN: No, I don’t—I don’t have—I don’t have any—
AMY GOODMAN: Thoughts on Keystone?
TODD STERN: No, I’m not—I’m not doing [inaudible].
AMY GOODMAN: Can you say what you thought of the secretary’s speech?
TODD STERN: I thought it was great. Excellent speech.