The way to pay for this, says Gore, is to impose a carbon tax, combined with a sharp reduction in payroll taxes. "We should tax what we burn, not what we earn. This is the single most important policy change we can make."
The Associated Press reports that Gore's advocacy group, The Alliance for Climate Protection, estimates that the cost transforming America's energy infrastructure at $1.5 trillion to $3 trillion over 30 years in public and private money. Gore says that it would cost about as much to build coal plants to satisfy the country's electricity demand.
Gore's speech was light on details, so talk about base-loads and kilowatt-hours will wait for another day.
But questions are already arising as to whether such a transformation is is politically feasible. The Hill, a daily newspaper that covers the US Congress, reports that some Democrats are finding Gore's timing to be inconvenient, as Americans seem to be more concerned about rising energy prices.
"I think the American public will be much more receptive to arguments about climate change when gas prices aren’t so critical,” Ohio Rep. Zack Space told the paper.
Adding to this uncertainty are the results of a May Pew survey that showed that only 47 percent of Americans believe that humans are responsible for climate change.