LAS VEGAS — Despite continued denial of global warming in some circles, former Vice President Al Gore told a national green energy conference in Las Vegas he’s optimistic about growing bipartisan support for bigger investments in renewable energy.
Gore recited many of the same concerns he raised in his 2006 documentary and this year’s sequel to “An Inconvenient Truth” — warming oceans stirring up unprecedented storms, catastrophic wildfires in the West and rising temperatures across entire regions.
“All over the West we’re seeing these fires get much, much worse,” he said. “The underlying cause is the heat.”
He also outlined reasons for hope during his keynote address at the National Clean Energy Summit co-hosted by former Nevada Sen. Harry Reid and Gov. Brian Sandoval.
More leaders from both parties are beginning to take the problem seriously and the renewable energy economy is “really taking off,” he said, especially in places like Nevada.
“I’m fundamentally, extremely optimistic,” he said.
The winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize only mentioned President Donald Trump a few times and said that progress can — and will — be made on renewables and climate change regardless of who is in the White House.
Gore said that while Trump has said the U.S. is pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, the first day that could actually happen isn’t until the next presidential term. And he said many states and businesses intend to pursue the goals set out in the agreement partly because the lower cost of renewable energy is spurring economic growth.
Sandoval said renewable energy production in Nevada has almost doubled since 2009.
“We have invested $734 million in incentives,” Sandoval said. “I’m the first to acknowledge that’s a big investment, but that has attracted a return of $7 billion.”
He said the investments are being made not only for environmental benefits but because they make good financial sense.
The Nevada-based Clean Energy Project and a non-partisan group of environmental entrepreneurs, E2, said in a report released on the eve of the summit that jobs tied to clean energy in Nevada are growing at a rate three times faster than overall statewide employment.
It said Nevada’s clean energy sector has grown 9.5 percent over the past year to a total of more than 31,000 jobs. That compares to overall growth of about 3 percent in Nevada’s non-farm labor workforce. Nationally, the study says more than 3 million people now work in clean energy and clean transportation.
“Our report shows that Nevada’s commitment to developing its clean energy resources is creating jobs and driving economic growth,” said Karen Wayland, the Clean Energy Project’s executive director.
Gore and Sandoval each referenced the recent tragic shooting in Las Vegas during their opening remarks.
“This is something that has wounded us deeply, but it has also brought us together,” Sandoval said.
The summit was held on the Las Vegas Strip at the Bellagio Resort and Casino — about 1.5 miles from the Mandalay Bay where Stephen Paddock started shooting from the 32nd floor on Oct. 1.
“The entire country grieves with you and holds you in our hearts,” Gore said. “I hear the phrase ‘Las Vegas Strong,’ and we’re all with you.”