Sabotaging the Climate Change Debate

Gro Harlem Brundtland was the youngest person and the first woman ever to hold the office of prime minister in Norway. With two other periods as prime minister from 1986 to 1989 and 1990 to 1996, Dr. Brundtland was head of government for more than 10 years.

Throughout her political career, Dr. Brundtland has developed a growing concern for issues of global significance. In 1983 the then United Nations secretary-general invited her to establish and chair the World Commission on Environment and Development. The Commission, which is best known for developing the broad political concept of sustainable development, published its report Our Common Future in April 1987.

The Commission’s recommendations led to the Earth Summit—the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

Dr. Brundtland finally stepped down as prime minister in October 1996. In her successful bid to become director-general of the World Health Organization her many skills as doctor, politician, activist and manager have come together.

Dr. Brundtland was nominated as director-general of the World Health Organization by the executive board of WHO in January 1998. The World Health Assembly elected her for the position on May 13, 1998.

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TRANSCRIPT

Question: To this day, there are people who do not accept that we are influencing the environment on a planetary scale. Why do you think there are still people who hold out on this question? 

Gro Harlem Brundtland: Well, you know, in a way it is surprising that it has been possible for strong influential sectors, or even companies or groups of companies to make such an impact in undermining or countering the scientific evidence that has been mounting. So, a lot of effort has gone in to try to undermine reality. Now why is it being listened to? This is hard to understand, but the fact of the matter is that a lot of resources, a lot of thinking and a lot of money has gone into trying to influence the world in a negative way. And this is, well we have the same issue with the tobacco companies if we go back -- well it's not over, but at least it became clear to many that the tobacco companies in fact were misbehaving, lying to the U.S. Congress and putting a lot of effort into undermining public health efforts. So, I think we have an aspect of this also with regard to climate change. 

Recorded on February 26, 2010

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