Al Gore's sense of urgency on climate change an energy source in itself

In the decade-plus since Al Gore's Oscar-winning call to action on climate change, An Inconvenient Truth, the global situation has become even more gloomy, something that makes his follow-up conscious-pricking documentary all the more welcome, writes Damon Smith

Former United States vice-president Al Gore in a scene from An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power
Former United States vice-president Al Gore in a scene from An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power

A FEW minutes into Jon Shenk and Bonni Cohen's tub-thumping sequel to the Oscar-winning 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth, it becomes apparent that there is one renewable energy source the world has yet to harness.

It is a steady, irresistible thrum that won't destroy the ozone layer, and could power the planet for decades: former United States vice president Al Gore's boundless determination to prick consciences about the effects of global warming.

The avuncular messiah of the modern age loudly bangs a drum for action and words on climate change, spreading his message during a turbulent period of political upheaval including the election of Donald Trump, who lambasted global warming as a "very expensive hoax" and withdrew the United States from the Paris climate accord.

"With all these new threats, there's never been a more important time to speak truth to power," Gore sombrely observes, providing a snappy subtitle for the sequel.

Like its predecessor, the film incorporates segments from Gore's slide-show lectures, which have been updated with scenes from Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and flooding in Florida, the state which famously denied him the keys to the White House in the 2000 presidential election against George W Bush.

There's no sense of lip-smacking Schadenfreude as Gore wades through water-logged streets and engages with local dignitaries.

Breathtaking footage of the statesman atop a rapidly melting glacier in Greenland are intercut with snappy soundbites that anoint Gore as the lone voice of reason capable of deviating us from self-destruction.

"Big money has so much influence now," he laments. "Our democracy has been hacked."

Nowhere in the film is this more pronounced than footage from the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, where consensus is countered by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

He rationalises that the West has enjoyed 150 years of burning fossil fuels and now India should be afforded the same opportunity, not constrained by the prohibitive costs of borrowing to pay for solar power.

An unflustered Gore heads backstage to makes a few calls to powerful friends. Lo and behold, a few tense hours later, the accord is salvaged.

Aside from lionising Gore, the sequel is blessed with scenes of undeniable emotional power.

His 24-hour reality broadcast on November 13 2015 in Paris is interrupted by shocking news of suicide bombings and shooting in the French capital, including an assault on the Bataclan theatre during an Eagles Of Death Metal concert.

With glistening eyes, Gore stands before the largely French production crew and delivers a heartfelt pledge of solidarity.

These simple, unscripted words resonate clearly and remind us of the undeniable power of strangers, from different cultures and backgrounds, to pull together in pursuit of a common goal – our survival.

AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL: TRUTH TO POWER (PG, 98 mins) Documentary. Al Gore. Directors: Jon Shenk, Bonni Cohen

RATING: 6.5/10