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Gore: U.S., China must lead fight against 'planetary emergency'

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  • Al Gore says the world is at a "fateful fork" regarding climate change
  • Former U.S. vice president, U.N. panel split award for raising awareness
  • Gore, U.N. scientist say situation is dire, but solution within society's reach
  • Gore: Treaty, tax, moratorium on some coal plants best ways to combat problem
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OSLO, Norway (CNN) -- Al Gore praised Japan and Europe -- but chided the U.S. and China -- for their efforts to combat climate change, "a planetary emergency" at which the former U.S. vice president took aim Monday as he accepted the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

Gore shared the honor -- and the $1.6 million in award money -- with the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was represented by scientist Rajendra Pachauri. Gore said he intends to donate his prize money to an organization that strives to persuade people to cut emissions and reduce global warming.

In his acceptance speech Monday before Norway's royalty and other invited guests, Gore said the world is at a "fateful fork" and must find ways to counteract the shifting global temperatures.

"We, the human species, are confronting a planetary emergency, a threat to the survival of our civilization that is gathering ominous and destructive potential even as we gather here," Gore said.

Gore struck a more optimistic tone in saying it isn't too late to reverse the crisis and avoid some -- but not all of the consequences -- "if we act boldly, decisively and quickly." Video Watch as Gore says, "The future is knocking on our door" »

Gore applauded European and Japanese moves to fight climate change but singled out China and the United States -- the worst offenders -- for balking on their responsibilities to help curb carbon emissions.

The two countries "will need to make the boldest moves or stand accountable before history for their failure to act."

The former vice president called for nations to undertake several initiatives. Among them: ratify a treaty establishing a global cap on emissions by 2010, a moratorium on building coal-burning facilities that don't safely trap carbon and a carbon dioxide tax.

A tax is the easiest and most effective way to deal with climate change, Gore said.

"These are the last few years of decision, but they can be the first years of a bright and hopeful future if we do what we must," Gore said. "No one should believe a solution should be found without effort, without cost, without change." Watch why Gore has hope for after the election Video

Pachauri, chairman of the U.N. panel splitting the award with Gore, also told the audience that conquering the climate threat is within society's reach.

"Climate change today poses novel risks often outside the range of experience, such as impacts related to drought, heat waves, accelerated glacier threat and hurricane intensity," Pachauri said. "The global community needs to coordinate a far more proactive effort toward implementing adaptation measures in the most vulnerable communities and systems in the world."

In announcing the award in October, the Nobel committee credited Gore with being "one of the world's leading environmental politicians" and the U.N. climate panel with highlighting links between human activity and global warming.

The World Meteorological Organization and the U.N. Environment Program formed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 1988. Rather than conducting its own research, the panel reviews scientific literature from around the world.

Winning the Nobel Peace Prize caps off a string of high laurels for Gore. "An Inconvenient Truth," a documentary on global warming that features Gore, captured two Academy Awards in February.

Gore also picked up an Emmy for co-creating "Current TV," a show that describes itself as a global television network giving viewers the opportunity to create and influence its programming.

Previous American recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize include former Presidents Jimmy Carter (2002), Woodrow Wilson (1919) and Theodore Roosevelt (1906). A look back at the last dozen peace prize winners »

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In 1973, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger shared the award with North Vietnam's Le Duc Tho, who declined his share of the award, citing the situation in his country. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. received the honor in 1964.

Last year, the Nobel committee awarded the prize to Bangladeshi banker Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank, which he founded to provide credit with no collateral to poor residents of Bangladesh. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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