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'I Used To Be The Next President Of The Us'

Al Gore spreads green message with touch of humour and sincerity

Sheralyn Tay
Aug 8 2007 (TODAY)

A DISCOUNT store chain and a former "next President" had a profitable
lesson to share with global business yesterday.

Under pressure from a changing business environment and eco-conscious
consumers, Walmart - one of the world's biggest corporations - reduced its
energy consumption and reaped big gains in turn, noted former United
States Vice-President Al Gore (picture).

Speaking in Singapore at the Global Brand Forum yesterday, Mr Gore cited
the American-based chain of discount stores as an early adopter of energy

In its efforts to be a leader in carbon reduction, Walmart placed
windmills on the roofs of many stores and is talking to sub-contractors
about packaging.

And even as Walmart has become embroiled in controversy - over employee
discrimination and union issues - it has gotten a "huge" brand response at
a time this was needed, Mr Gore added.

Mr Gore, who spoke to a packed ballroom of industry leaders, shared his
views on how sustainability was good for branding - served with dollops of
wry and often self-deprecating humour.

Introducing himself, Mr Gore - one of four Vice-Presidents in American
history to win the popular vote but lose a presidential election -
good-naturedly alluded to his controversial loss in 2000, telling the
audience: "I used to be the next president of the United States."

Recounting a meal at a cheap diner with his wife, Tipper, he said: "The
waitress came over and fawned over (Tipper). Then she went over to the
couple next to us and whispered - so low I had to strain to hear her -
'yes, that's Al Gore'. The man replied, 'He's come down a long way hasn't

Mr Gore also could also not resist a few pot-shots at the current US
administration, saying - with an unrepentant grin - "I'm sorry, I can't
help myself".

The audience, which responded to his humour and sincerity, asked during
the question-and-answer session: Is he running for President?

No, said Mr Gore, to which another participant stood up and said: "I'm
glad you didn't become President, because you have a far superior role
than a presidential role now."

Mr Gore replied in jest: "I'm sure I would have made my own mistakes, but
different ones."

Even as he peppered his speech with funny asides, Mr Gore had a serious
message for businesses: What were they doing about the climate crisis?

Pointing to the urgency of the situation, Mr Gore said that growing demand
around the world for solutions meant business had to move, or lose out.

"Companies ahead of that curve will be rewarded in the marketplace," he
said. "It is in your business interest to be part of the solution to the
climate crisis."

While lack of political will remained a key stumbling block, Mr Gore was
optimistic that a tipping point, particularly in the US, was close at

Already, he said, state governments and some 600 cities in the US have
embraced the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty that seeks to reduce carbon
emissions - even though the US government itself has not ratified it.

The world's largest companies, such as General Electronics, Caterpillar,
and Proctor and Gamble, have also demanded government limits on carbon
dioxide emissions.

With the newly-elected congress in place and a new American President in
18 months, said Mr Gore: "No matter which party is elected, there will be
change on global warming."

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