Former Vice President Al Gore said fixing issues with American democracy is necessary to properly address climate change.
Gore told NBC News’s Chuck Todd in an interview that will air on “Meet the Press” on Sunday that public sentiment on climate issues is changing in favor of supporting urgent action, but a “broken” democracy is preventing progress from happening.
“In order to solve the climate crisis, we're going to have to pay attention to the democracy crisis,” he said.
Gore said Congress cannot pass climate legislation for the same reason it is unable to pass legislation to ban assault rifles.
He said the Senate’s filibuster, which requires most legislation to receive 60 votes to advance, should be eliminated and that “big money” plays too influential a role in politics.
With the Senate evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans 50-50, Democrats would need at least 10 Republican votes to pass most bills.
Democrats have attempted to use reconciliation, a process in the Senate that allows legislation on budget issues to move forward by a simple majority, but they have struggled to pass major climate legislation in that manner during the Biden administration.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has on multiple occasions come out against the climate spending measures that congressional Democrats have put forward, declaring his opposition last week to including climate provisions in a reconciliation bill before Labor Day.
Gore said President Biden is attempting to have the United States serve as a leader to the world on climate change, but he realistically has a “49-51 Senate on everything related to climate” and a “razor-thin majority” in the House.
After Manchin announced his opposition to the including spending to fight climate change in the reconciliation package, Biden vowed to take executive action on climate change. He is reportedly considering declaring a national climate emergency, which would grant him additional power on the issue, but he has not yet done so.
Gore said the public needs to elect more “pro-climate” senators and representatives from both parties to enact more pro-climate policies.
“We do have the solutions. And I think these extreme events that are getting steadily worse and more severe are really beginning to change minds,” he said. “We have to have unity as a nation to come together and stop making this a political football. It shouldn't be a partisan issue.”
He said renewable energy from wind and solar is now more affordable than electricity from fossil fuels in almost the entire world.
Gore said Biden has reversed some of the “terrible policies” of former President Trump but needs congressional action to take the “bold steps” that are needed on the climate. He said the president can and should still take steps like switching the U.S. Postal Service’s new fleet to electric vehicles and no longer approving any additional fossil-fuel development on federal lands.