Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project hosts record event in Pittsburgh

More than 1,500 people from around the world came to Pittsburgh Oct. 17-19 to attend the 36th Climate Reality Leadership Corps event, an environmental training led by former Vice President Al Gore.

The Heinz Endowments sponsored the international event at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, which was the largest Climate Reality Project convening since Mr. Gore founded the initiative in 2006. The program trains participants to become leaders in addressing climate issues in their communities.

Individuals from 42 countries joined people from across the United States, including 425 from western Pennsylvania, for the three-day gathering. The Climate Reality Project has trained nearly 14,000 Climate Reality Leaders from 140 countries since its inception.

Pittsburgh was thrust into the national spotlight regarding climate change in June when President Donald Trump announced his intention to pull the U.S. out the Paris Climate Accord, claiming he represented “Pittsburgh not Paris.”

“That was another ‘alternative fact,’ ” said Endowments Chairman Andre Heinz during the workshop’s opening day. He described how Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has committed the city to 100 percent renewable energy, issued a new comprehensive climate strategy, and, in a joint statement with Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, pledged to uphold the Climate Accord.

As one of the first featured speakers, Mr. Heinz introduced Mr. Gore and spoke about the polarized national debate surrounding climate change and the environmental achievements and challenges facing the Pittsburgh region.

“We seem to inhabit a world where opinion, often misplaced and broadcast through the realms of social media, is mistaken for fact and where vast numbers of the population seem oblivious to what we must consider now to be one of the most pressing humanitarian issues of our time,” Mr. Heinz said. “The effects that we are seeing as the result of global warming have long been predicted by science, and the costs are materializing before our eyes. Just in recent months we have seen the tragic consequences with a series of devastating hurricanes, epic flooding, catastrophic fires and severe drought.”

Pittsburgh has made significant advancements in recent years, and Allegheny County has more clean energy jobs than any other county in Pennsylvania. The region also has one of the fastest-growing tech sectors in the country, attracting Google and other cutting-edge enterprises and serving as a home to driverless car entrepreneurship and benefits from major innovation partnerships with local universities, including Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh.


© 2017 The Heinz Endowments