By Sebastien Malo
NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A climate-change conference canceled just before the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump was resurrected on Thursday as former Vice President Al Gore said it was vital to “fill a void” on climate change.
Some 350 climate and health experts gathered at The Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia, for a “Climate and Health Meeting” convened by Gore, academics and advocates after a similar conference by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) was abruptly called off.
The CDC’s own “Climate and Health Meeting” – which was to take place in early February also in Atlanta – was mysteriously scrapped days before the Jan. 20 inauguration.
A spokeswoman with the federal agency did not answer questions as to why the meeting had been canned.
Trump has dismissed man-made climate change as a hoax created by the Chinese and said during his campaign that he would pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement.
However, he has since said he had an “open mind” on the 200-nation accord to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuel.
Speakers at the CDC’s Climate and Health Summit were notified in early January that the meeting was suddenly off, according to local media.
“For reasons we don’t need to go into, (the CDC meeting) was abruptly cancel led, and the experts who had been looking forward to this felt it would be valuable to go forward with it anyway,” Gore said in remarks at Thursday’s gathering.
CDC spokeswoman Bernadette Burden said by email its long-planned meeting had been postponed and other options were being considered.
In an opinion piece published online on Medium.com on Wednesday, Gore said: “The event will fill a void.”
Thursday’s one-day meeting was organized by a coalition of non-governmental partners including Gore’s non-profit, the Climate Reality Project, as well as the Harvard Global Health Institute.
In a keynote address, Gore listed the impact of warming temperatures and extreme weather on people’s health, citing examples stretching from India to Brazil to China.
The dangers include a proliferation of heat waves with record-high temperatures that kill vulnerable people and the spreading of tropical diseases such as the Zika virus, he said.
Last month, Gore premiered at the Sundance Film Festival his new documentary, “An Inconvenient Sequel,” a decade after releasing “An Inconvenient Truth,” an Academy Award-winning documentary that turned him into a leading voice in the fight against climate change. [nL1N1FA06Q]
The Democrat, who served under former President Bill Clinton, met with Trump, a Republican, in December to talk about climate policy. [nL1N1E025U]
(Reporting by Sebastien Malo @sebastienmalo, Editing by Lyndsay Griffiths. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit http://news.trust.org)