It was more than a decade ago that Vice President Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” helped bring the conversation surrounding climate change into the mainstream.
Now, with a presidential administration that dismisses climate science, Gore returns with “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,” aiming to marry the idea that we are on the brink of an energy technology revolution, but that we still have a long way to go.
The film, which premiered at Sundance earlier this year and hits theaters on Friday, picks up where the first film left off, following Gore around the world as he explores the devastating effects of climate change while training the next generation of climate leaders.
“In the intervening 10 years, so much has changed. The climate crisis is worse than ever,” said Jon Shenk, a co-director of the documentary. “On the other hand, it seemed like a pipe dream back then, but now these goals are a reality.”
It’s certainly becoming a reality for some — renewable energy use in the U.S. is the highest and the cheapest it has ever been, and is increasingly becoming a viable alternative to fossil fuels.
But the climax of the film comes during the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015, at which India became a sticking point for passing a resolution. Leaders of the country argued that since nations like the U.S. rode the fossil fuel wave to becoming a developed country, India should have a similar shot.
Ultimately, Gore negotiates backroom deals to push India to be on what he considers the right side of history.
“The conflict between the developed world and the developing world on the climate crisis is an incredibly important one,” said co-director Bonni Cohen. “It gets at an essential question of how do we take down global fossil fuels.”
Despite being released in the midst of a presidential administration that proudly denies the validity of climate science, “An Inconvenient Sequel” largely steers clear of partisan politics, choosing not to pit two sides against each other.
Shenk said this was a conscious choice, and that the issue really only became political when fossil fuel companies saw that the green revolution could affect their bottom lines.
This is evident when Gore visits Georgetown, Texas, a deep red town in a deep red state that is making the move toward 100 percent reliance on renewable energy.
The filmmakers hope this serves as a bastion of possibility, showing that all it takes is a little will on the part of the people.
“That was the moment of true hope because the typical tribalism dissolves away and allows Americans to unite again,” Cohen said.