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Al Gore Praises Swedish Premier for Environmental Leadership

by: AP    8 September 2006

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore on Thursday hailed Sweden's efforts to break its dependency on oil, in comments that could be a boost to Prime Minister Goran Persson two weeks ahead of elections.

"There is no country that has had the kind of visionary and practical leadership that Prime Minister Persson has provided on this issue," Gore said after meeting with the Swedish premier to discuss climate change.

Gore was in Stockholm Wednesday and Thursday to promote his movie "An Inconvenient Truth" about the threat of global warming.

Persson's government announced an ambitious plan last year aiming to break the Scandinavian country's dependency on fossil fuels by 2020, largely by investing money for research on alternative energy sources.

Gore thanked Persson for making Sweden "a nation providing moral leadership to the entire world on the most serious challenge that civilization has ever faced."

"I think it's a remarkable achievement," Gore said.

Heading into national elections on Sept. 17, Persson's governing Social Democrats are deadlocked with a four-party opposition coalition in opinion polls, but are hoping their environmental policies will resonate with voters.

Gore said his comments should not be seen as a campaign endorsement.

"I don't want to make statements that are in the midst of a political environment," he said. "I want my words to be heard as objective and clear as I intend them.

Persson in turn hailed Gore's efforts to raise awareness of global warming, and said the Swedish government will fund a program to distribute his movie to all Swedish secondary schools.

The movie will be shown to students "to create a discussion among ordinary youngsters — what to do, how to do it, and who to do it," Persson said. "Because it is about our common future."