Rather than collapse in a heap of despair, the withdrawal of the US instead resulted in something previously unthinkable on the international stage too: a strengthening of the deal.
The federal government’s retreat also left space at the top of the table free for China to (perhaps reluctantly) fill as – along with the European Union – the Asian superpower doubled-down on its commitments to battle climate change. The withdrawal of the US even saw India, a nation who was initially reluctant to sign the Paris agreement in the first place, renew its own pledge.
In the aftermath of the Paris climate agreement, it seems, nations have been exploring ways to meet their commitment and coming to a “pleasant surprise”, says Gore. “They can save a lot of money and clean up the air at the same time.”
Nowhere is this momentum seemingly more dramatic than in the developing world, especially in India and China. As Gore explains, “the traffic jams, and the particulates and smog and low-level ozone have created a lot of unrest.”
“Particularly among the members of the new middle class, and of the new generation, who are fed up with these environmental insults,” he continues.
As the movie slips forwards in time, for the most part, only hints of President Trump are made. Looming from the background, he’s a little like the proverbial ghost at the feast, a foreshadowing of a terrible time to come when all the efforts of climate advocacy come crashing down in a smoldering heap.
But no – Gore is convinced that now, finally, we’ve almost reached what he refers to as the “political tipping point.”
The majority of the American public and its politicians know that the climate crisis is a threat, just as they know clean energy is an affordable solution to climate change that won’t wreck the economy, but improve it, all without pumping pollution into the air they breathe.
“What isn’t inevitable,” he cautions, “is the appropriate pace of change.”
“I have no doubt that we’ll convert to renewable energy and sustainable agriculture and so on, but we’re still putting 110 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every day like it’s an open sewer,” Gore explains.
“The longer we delay a sharp reduction in those emissions, the more expensive it will be to address the crisis, and the more serious the consequences will be. Regrettably, some damage has already occurred that will not be repairable