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Change the law, not just the light bulbs - Gore

DAVOS, Switzerland - Climate campaigner Al Gore challenged policymakers on Thursday to step up action against the "planetary emergency" of global warming by making new laws, saying action by individuals could help only at the margins.

In a swipe at the Bush administration's environmental record, the former U.S. Vice President also said any new government in Washington after elections in November could only be an improvement.

Former U.S Vice-President Al Gore is seen in northern Spain in this October 26, 2007 file photo. (REUTERS/Felix Ordonez)

"In addition to changing the light bulbs, it is far more important to change the laws and to change the treaty obligations that nations have," Gore told delegates at the World Economic Forum annual meeting,

"One simple thing that will solve the climate crisis is to put a price on carbon ... It needs to be effective globally," he said at the forum of business and political leaders in Davos, where economic fears have overshadowed climate problems.

Gore, who narrowly lost to President George Bush in the 2000 presidential election, looked forward to a better U.S. climate policy after this year's poll, although be believes none of the candidates go far enough in their climate pledges.

"Whoever is elected is going to have a different position and a better position. But let's be clear: whoever the leaders are, this issue is going to be dealt with responsibly and effectively only when there is a sufficient degree of urgency on the part of the people themselves."

This year, there are a record number of sessions and workshops about global warming in the Swiss resort. But campaigners fear the issue may be slipping off the radar screen of the world's movers and shakers, and conversations in the corridors are dominated by the economy and turbulent financial markets.

"If we get distracted by the aberrations that you see in the financial market right now it would clearly be very unfortunate," Rajendra Pachauri, head of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, told reporters.

Rock star and anti-poverty campaigner Bono shared a platform with Gore for a joint session on climate and poverty -- two issues which the two men said must be tackled together, since the brunt of the climate crisis would be felt in the developing world.

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