March 22, 2007
LESS TALK MORE ACTION: A YOUTH SUMMIT ON CLIMATE CHANGE
Le Palais des Congres : 1001, place Jean-Paul-Riopelle, Salle 517
Thank you Mohammed and let me again thank the students and young people from Youth Action Montreal who organized this event.
HONOURED GUESTS, I am particularly proud of the Concordia students who have been involved from the outset in inviting Vice-President Al Gore and David Suzuki, Minister Claude Bechard, Mayor Gerald Tremblay and Greenpeace and putting together today's event with Youth Action Montreal.
This has been an important day highlighted by the compelling presentations by Mr. Gore and an old friend of Concordia, David Suzuki.
David Suzuki has spoken at our university and in various Montreal venues on several occasions.
It is a great honour to have him with us today.
It is very fitting that Concordia made the decision to award this honorary doctorate to Albert Arnold Gore, Jr. with our student leaders, and that we are all here to present this honour together.
Al Gore came to Montreal today to deliver a message. It is a message about the urgency to act.
It is a message that has not fallen on deaf ears in Montreal.
You have stepped forward, as you have at other points in your life, to explain, to educate and to appeal to all that is rational and generous in our nature.
This role is not new to Mr. Gore.
Al Gore is a man who has made a lifelong commitment to public life and to educating the public.
As a congressman from Tennessee in the United States House of Representatives from 1977-1985 and later as Senator in the United States Senate from 1985-1993, as 45th Vice President of the United States from 1993 to 2001, and as the Democratic nominee for President in the 2000 election, Al Gore has never hesitated to take a stand.
Al Gore was one of the first politicians to grasp the crisis proportions of climate change and to call for a reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouses gases.
During his tenure in Congress, Gore co-sponsored hearings on toxic waste and as Vice President, Al Gore was a proponent for environmental protection.
In 1989, Al Gore published Earth in the Balance, his book on environmental conservation which became the first book written by a sitting Senator to make The New York Times bestseller list since John F. Kennedy's Profiles in Courage.
In the late 1990s, Gore strongly pushed, and continues to push, for the passage of the Kyoto Treaty, which calls for serious reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. He has defended this position despite strong opposition.
Al Gore continues this battle on many fronts.
Al Gore and a team of climate change scientists and educators are training more than 1,000 individual volunteers to give a version of his presentation on the effects of -- and solutions for -- global warming, to community groups throughout the United States.
The presentation and training program are based on the message Mr. Gore has been giving for more than two decades, which inspired the documentary film and book, An Inconvenient Truth.
An Inconvenient Truth the book he authored, reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller lists of July 2, and August 13, 2006, and remained on the list for several months.
The film version of An Inconvenient Truth, a recent Oscar winner, is bringing the reality of global warming and climate change to millions of viewers around the world.
It is a phenomenon almost without precedent in terms of mass communication and the power of a direct, reasoned and thoughtful public education tool.
Today's Youth Action Montreal event is a reminder that, in many ways, our collective hope of dealing with this global threat resides, in part, in the next generation.
Young people are more and more concerned about the future survival of our planet.
As a university president, I see these young people in action every day.
I can tell you that at Concordia they have sounded a wake up call.
Our Sustainable Concordia group, beginning with a sustainability audit in 2002, has become an integral part of operations at Concordia.
Ses projets sont diversifiés, comme en témoignent la serre expérimentale destinée à des projets environnementaux, le composteur au campus Loyola, le projet Allego pour encourager le transport en commun et les conférences spéciales comme, récemment, Blueprints for Change et le Colloque sur le développement durable.
Nombre de nos projets majeurs de rénovation et de construction sont des modèles écoénergétiques, et les chercheurs de Concordia se consacrent à des problèmes comme le développement des sources d'énergie de remplacement, l'épuration de l'eau et la purification du sol, le changement climatique et l'avancée des recherches dans des domaines tels que la nanotechnologie et la génomique environnementale.
A prime example is the Canadian Solar Buildings Research Network, led by Engineering professor Dr. Andreas Athienitis, which is headquartered at Concordia University.
Inspired by leaders like Al Gore, all of us at Concordia and beyond, must do more.
So, Mr. Gore, for all that you have accomplished in the past and all that you will continue to accomplish, we bestow upon you our university's highest award, an honorary doctorate from Concordia University.
It is a symbol of respect and appreciation for your lifetime of service to your country and to a better world.
I would ask Mr. Gore to please step forward along with our Registrar Linda Healey.