Al Gore and Dr Rajendra Pachauri on set with Stephen
The choice of 2007's Nobel Peace laureates, Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), signalled the importance of the global warming debate this year. But were Mr Gore and the IPCC's chair, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, able to face Stephen's tough questions?
When Al Gore arrived in Oslo with his small travelling army of security men, advisers and, on this occasion, other Gores (Tipper and the kids wouldn't have missed this for the world) they most certainly did not make a bee-line for the airport taxi stand. Oh no.
This teller of the Inconvenient Truth also knows a convenient photo-op when he sees one. So Team Gore led a heaving mass of local camera crews onto the super-efficient express train heading for downtown Oslo.
Full marks to the former vice president and Nobel Laureate for very visibly practising what he preaches. I suspect he's learned from bitter recent experience. Last year a bunch of conservative activists in Mr Gore's home state of Tennessee managed to gain access to his domestic energy bills. And they were not a pretty sight.
For both 2005 and 2006 they hovered around the $30,000 mark. True, the Gore seat is his office as well as his home, but one suspects he's not chairing too many meetings in the extensive pool house or indeed researching climate data from the deep end of his heated pool.
Al Gore doesn't take kindly to those who question his climate crusade
Mr Gore brushed off the ensuing hoo-ha about the size of his personal carbon footprint by turning his ire on his critics. A small coterie of discredited sceptics, he called them; language he repeated when they started banging on about his use of private jets to spread the word on climate change.
As I learned in Oslo, Al Gore doesn't take kindly to those who question his climate crusade. My interview with him in the stolid surroundings of the Grand Hotel was the first time I'd seen him in the flesh since I chased him around America during his run for the White House in 2000. Actually 'in the flesh' is a misleading phrase. When Mr Gore entered the Nobel suite his face was so heavily powdered I momentarily mistook him for the late Marcel Marceau.
He'd been rehearsing the Nobel prize-giving, he explained. So too had his fellow recipient Rajendra Pachauri (in Oslo to receive a share of the Peace Prize on behalf of the IPCC), but Mr Pachauri's mood seemed significantly sunnier than Mr Gore's.
Editor Carey Clark and director Astrid Lunde in the control room
That first impression was amply confirmed when the interview began. The former vice president harrumphed when I cited a British High Court judge who had concluded that the Gore epic 'An Inconvenient Truth' contained a valuable message, but was marred by several exaggerations and distortions.
His pallid complexion darkened even more when I mentioned the name of his long-time political foe Bjorn Lomborg, a Danish statistician, who claims that the resources spent on curbing global emissions would be better spent on adaptation and miligation strategies.
The rest of our encounter was marked by Mr Gore's heavy sighs and deep frowns. We discussed at length his prescription for progress at the Bali climate summit. He and Dr Pachauri had a fascinating discussion about the role of the developing world in the drive to curb emissions. Should India and China be commissioning more and more coal-fired power stations to provide the juice for future growth?
But when the cameras stopped rolling the peace prize winner from Tennessee let me have it with both barrels. I'd compromised my journalistic integrity. The BBC had lost its nerve. As politely as I could I begged to differ.
When the cameras stopped rolling, the peace prize winner from Tennessee let me have it with both barrels
Mr Gore appears to believe that the clear scientific consensus in support of 'anthropogenic' climate change has rendered sceptical questions off-limits. I think he's wrong.
Informed questions from HardTalk citing an alternative viewpoint surely offer Mr Gore and indeed Dr Pachauri a valuable platform to make their case. That seems to me to be a self-evident truth, inconvenient or otherwise to the former vice president.
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