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Want to fight climate change? Organize over the Internet, says Al Gore

During a talk at the South by Southwest festival, the former US vice president likens the cause to the campaign for Net neutrality.

Al Gore exhorts the crowd on the opening day of South by Southwest Interactive. Richard Nieva

AUSTIN, Texas -- Al Gore thinks the Internet could help save the planet. Literally.

The former United States vice president exhorted people to tap into the power of the Internet to organize their efforts for a healthy environment and call out politicians who deny climate change.

"Push back. Use social media, use the Internet," Gore said Friday. "Political will is a renewable resource."

Gore made his comments during a presentation on the first day of South by Southwest Interactive, the tech-centric portion of the festival that brings together the technorati, filmmakers and musicians. Gore has deep ties to the technology industry, as a director on Apple's board and senior partner at the venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers.

True to the cause, Al Gore flew to Austin on Southwest Airlines instead of, say, taking a private jet. Richard Nieva/CNET

Arguably the most recognizable face of the environmental movement, Gore compared the fight over climate change to recent political wins for Net neutrality, the concept of ensuring that all Internet traffic gets fair and equal treatment. The Federal Communications Commission last month voted in favor of stricter regulations that would ensure an open Internet. The lead up to that vote involved an active Internet campaign, with Amazon, Facebook, Google and other tech giants voicing support, joined by people sharing their views on social media.

Gore also pointed to the tech industry's fight in 2012 against SOPA, or the Stop Internet Piracy Act. Many Internet companies, which believed the 2012 bill would impinge on freedom of speech and curtail growth of the industry, staged protests against the bill. That included an "Internet blackout" that involved thousands of websites, including Google and Wikipedia. For example, Google covered the logo on its homepage with a black box.

Gore has long-championed the cause to halt climate change. In 2006, he starred in the Academy Award-winning documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," about the effects of global warming. He's also the founder and chairman of the Climate Reality Project, an environmental nonprofit organization that promotes education and advocacy.

The United Nations will host its Climate Change Conference in Paris from November 30 to December 11. The conference aims to achieve a legally binding agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world.