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Al Gore has ‘extremely interesting conversation’ with Trump on climate change

Former Vice President Al Gore arrives at Trump Tower, Monday in New York. (Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)
Jenna Johnson ,Juliet Eilperin

As Donald Trump continues to indicate that he might be willing to change his position on climate change, which he has long called a “hoax,” the president-elect met Monday with former vice president Al Gore, who has become a prominent activist in the fight against global warming.

Gore was originally scheduled to meet just with Trump’s oldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, who is not registered with a political party and has already pushed her father to adopt positions usually promoted by Democrats. Gore told reporters that after that meeting, he then had “an extremely interesting conversation” with the president-elect.

“I had a lengthy and very productive session with the president-elect. It was a sincere search for areas of common ground,” Gore told reporters after spending about 90 minutes at Trump Tower in Manhattan during the lunch hour Monday. “I had a meeting beforehand with Ivanka Trump. The bulk of the time was with the president-elect, Donald Trump. I found it an extremely interesting conversation, and to be continued, and I’m just going to leave it at that.”

Trump has repeatedly called climate change a “hoax” and has even accused the Chinese government of creating this fake problem to steal manufacturing jobs from the United States. But Trump seemed to soften that position during a meeting with The New York Times late last month, saying that he would keep an “open mind” on the issue and acknowledging that human activity might be connected to changes in the climate.

Ivanka Trump is one of the most influential people in Trump’s life and is a member of his transition team, although she has said she does not plan to take an active role in her father’s administration. Her husband, Jared Kushner, is one of Trump’s most trusted aides, and the couple are reportedly house-hunting in Washington.

While Gore was not personally close to Hillary Clinton – their relationship became strained in the wake of President Bill Clinton’s impeachment and as they both vied for Democratic donors’ support during their respective political bids in 2000 – the former vice president campaigned on her behalf late in this year’s presidential campaign.

Speaking to an audience at Miami Dade College in October, Gore warned that Trump, “based on the ideas that he has presented, would take us toward a climate catastrophe.” Appealing directly to millennials, he alluded to his own narrow loss to George W. Bush in 2000 in Florida and said young people could not afford to vote for anyone other than Clinton.

“The world is on the cusp of either building on the progress and solving the climate crisis, or stepping back, washing our hands of America’s traditional role as the leader of the world and letting the big polluters call the shots,” Gore said. “The choice is that clear. It’s that stark.”

But while national environmental groups and many scientists have already fired shots across the bow at Donald Trump, suggesting he needs to respect scientific integrity and refrain from appointing advisers who would gut existing environmental and public health safeguards, some prominent activists have been exploring ways to influence the incoming administration. The most obvious target has been Ivanka Trump and her husband, since they are seen as the least conservative members of Trump’s family.

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio, for example, recently gave her a copy of his new National Geographic documentary on climate change, “Before the Flood.” DiCaprio aired the documentary in October on the White House’s South Lawn, before which he appeared onstage with President Obama and atmospheric scientist Katharine Hayhoe.

DiCaprio, who campaigned on Clinton’s behalf and aired the film on college campuses in Florida and elsewhere, did not mention Trump by name but alluded to him at the event.

“We must empower leaders who not only believe in climate change but are willing to do something about it,” he said. “The scientific consensus is in, and the argument is now over. If you do not believe in climate change, you do not believe in facts, or in science, or empirical truths, and therefore, in my humble opinion, should not be allowed to hold public office.”