Al Gore today compared the battle against climate change with the struggle against the Nazis.
The former US Vice President said the world lacked the political will to act and invoked the spirit of Winston Churchill by encouraging leaders to unite their nations to fight climate change.
He also accused politicians around the world of exploiting ignorance about the dangers of global warming to avoid difficult decisions.
Speaking in Oxford at the Smith School World Forum on Enterprise and the Environment, sponsored by The Times, Mr Gore said: “Winston Churchill aroused this nation in heroic fashion to save civilisation in World War II.”
He added: “We have everything we need except political will but political will is a renewable resource.”
Mr Gore admitted that it was difficult to persuade the public that the threat from climate change was as urgent as the threat from Nazi Germany.
“The level of awareness and concern among populations has not crossed the threshold where political leaders feel that they must change.
“The only way politicians will act is if awareness raises to a level to make them feel that it’s a necessity.”
He said future generations would put one of two questions to today’s adults.
“It will either be ’what were you thinking, didn’t you see the North Pole melting before your eyes, didn’t you hear what the scientists were saying?’ Or they will ask ’how is it you were able to find the moral courage to solve the crisis which so many said couldn’t be solved?’.”