Sen. Barack Obama said Wednesday he would give Al Gore, a Nobel prize winner, a major role in an Obama administration to address the problem of global warming.
At a town-hall meeting, Obama was asked if he would tap the former vice president for his Cabinet, or an even higher level office, to handle global warming.
"I would," Obama said. "Not only will I, but I will make a commitment that Al Gore will be at the table and play a central part in us figuring out how we solve this problem. He's somebody I talk to on a regular basis. I'm already consulting with him in terms of these issues, but climate change is real. It is something we have to deal with now, not 10 years from now, not 20 years from now."
The only position higher than a Cabinet post is vice president. While Obama seemed to dangle that possibility in his answer Wednesday, he has repeatedly said it is far too early to discuss potential vice presidents because the nomination has not been won.
It is also not clear that Gore, who had the job for eight years under Bill Clinton, would even want to be a vice president again.
Since leaving the White House, Gore has gone on to become one of the world's leading voices for combating the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. His work earned him a share of the Nobel last year.
Popular among Democrats, Gore is perhaps the single most coveted endorsement up for grabs in the long-running competition between Obama and rival Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The relationship between Gore and the Clintons became strained after Gore limited Bill Clinton's campaigning on his behalf in the 2000 presidential race which elected George W. Bush.
Obama said he would use Gore to help forge a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions designed to lower pollution.
The Illinois senator cautioned that such a system could mean an increase in electricity bills from power companies that rely on coal-burning, and that some of the money generated from a cap-and-trade system may be used in the beginning to help lower income or fixed income customers with those bills.
He also called on individuals to do their part to lower energy consumption.
"All of us are going to have to change our habits. We are a wasteful culture," he said.
Using compact fluorescent light bulbs, energy efficient appliances, and unplugging power chargers when they're not in use are relatively simple solutions, he said.
"Those kinds of simple steps, if everybody takes them, can drastically reduce our energy consumption."