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Gore, Bono Press West On Climate, Poverty

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and Irish rock singer Bono warned the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday that efforts to tackle climate change and global poverty were lagging, and not improving conditions as much as is needed.

At an early-morning session that drew several hundred attendees, climate change campaigner Gore warned that the world climate crisis was worsening, and was in fact unfolding more rapidly than some of the most pessimistic projections by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

"It is difficult to summon the moral imagination necessary to understand the degree of responsibility that is on the shoulders on those of us who are alive in this day and time," said Gore, who shared last year's Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to fight climate change with the IPCC.

"All future generations will at some point look back and make an assessment of whether we succeeded or failed," he added.

Bono, a vocal and high-profile advocate of reducing global poverty by providing debt relief to African nations and boosting efforts to treat and prevent AIDS, was also critical of governments' failure to live up to their promises.

"There are now two million Africans on retroviral drugs and that is pretty astonishing," Bono said. But, he added, pledges by the Group of Eight (G-8) nations of $50 billion annually to eliminate poverty had not been met.

"The G-8 are not making good largely on their commitments. About half, I would say, is where we've got," Bono said. He expressed dismay that the United Nations' millennium development goals - reducing extreme poverty and hunger by half by 2015 - are not likely to be met.

"And this is a scandal," he said.

Speaking to AP Television after addressing the event, Bono said the West needed to work towards tackling extreme poverty, for example in Africa, where many people live on less than one dollar a day.

"The planet is in a precarious place right now and extreme poverty affects a billion people who are living on less than a dollar a day, scrambling for their life. We have a great life in the West. If we want it to continue we have to feel our interconnectedness with the people who are living on less than a dollar a day.

"Europe is next door to Africa. We need to partner with our neighbors in working some of this out."

Bono also stressed the interconnectedness of the issues of climate change and third world debt relief, as the environmental and economic consequences of global warming will only exacerbate efforts to reduce poverty, "and in fact undo all of the work that we've been trying to do over the years."

He called on all attendees to work together so "we can leave behind a better planet than what we were born into."

Bono said German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told him she will press for recommitment.

"She has promised to put that right, and that is courageous" considering that Germany is already spending 4 percent of its gross domestic product on its own efforts to reunify East and West Germany, Bono said.

He noted that French President Nicolas Sarkozy told him earlier this month that he, too, would try to keep France's commitments to the poorest of the poor even though he had his own campaign commitments to improve the lives of the French people.

The annual five-day meeting of 2,500 government, business and academic leaders in the Swiss Alps comes amidst turmoil and markets around the globe.

The opening day was made somber by the lingering fears of economic malaise.

"I think the mood is pretty gloomy," Chrystia Freeland, U.S. managing editor of the Financial Times, told CBS Early Show anchor Harry Smith. "People are watching the U.S. very closely. They're watching the American markets and also the behavior of the American authorities, both the Fed and the Treasury. And the big question here, particularly for the Europeans and the Asians, is will there be contagion? Will America's problems spread to the rest of the world? I think on balance, the Europeans and the Asians think that probably it will."