Al Gore at Davos

What a difference a few years makes at Davos. A plenary panel on Climate Change and preparing for the Copenhagen summit this year was packed; this issue now galvanizes corporate executives. But everyone has been asking whether, at a time of acute global financial crisis, the developed countries can afford to pay for new technology that's needed.

So you could have heard a pin drop in the hall when Al Gore described the thinking in the Obama administration on this issue. The new US leadership, he said, "is prepared to engage the world on the climate crisis." The largest component of the $820 billion stimulus package passed this week by Congress "was a green stimulus", he said.

The Obama administration "is saying we need to build a national smart electrical grid" which can transfer soar energy from the southwest and wind energy from the west. "My friends in the new administration," he added, "say that the greenest person in the room is President Obama. He is pushing hard for a bold solution. If other governments do the same we can make the move" towards a different energy future based on renewables. "I  believe the US retains the capacity to provide leadership for the world" on this issue, Gore continued.

What a difference an election makes in changing the prospects for global progress on climate change.