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Al Gore teams up with Heinz for symbolic Pittsburgh climate meeting

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The former vice president is working with Terry Heinz Kerry and the Heinz Endowments to recruit and train climate change activists. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Former Vice President Al Gore on Thursday joined forces with Teresa Heinz Kerry to recruit and train climate change activists in Pittsburgh in the run-up to a new environmental campaign set to start with the release of Gore's new global warming documentary Aug. 4.

Gore said his work with the Heinz Endowments in Pittsburgh sends the right message to the Trump administration as a symbol of local leadership in the wake of the president's June 1 decision to withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement.

"After President Trump's announcement that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the city of Pittsburgh became a symbol of local leadership working around the federal government to solve the climate crisis," Gore said. "I am thrilled to join the people of this great city to continue the momentum of climate action in the United States and extend my sincere thanks to the Heinz Endowments for their generous support of this Climate Reality Leadership Corps training."

Trump, in making the announcement, said he was elected to "serve Pittsburgh, not Paris." But Trump's decision set off a backlash from Pittsburgh's mayor, who supported the agreement, along with dozens of other mayors, governors, and others to pledge their continued support for the U.N.'s goals.

Teresa Heinz is chairman emeritus of the Heinz Endowments, which is both sponsor and partner in hosting the special climate change session in Pittsburgh with Gore's Climate Reality Project. She has managed the philanthropic side of the Heinz family business. "Today, the foundations she oversees are widely known for developing innovative strategies to protect the environment, improve education, enhance the lives of young children, broaden economic opportunity and promote the arts," according to the Heinz website.

Her husband, former Secretary of State John Kerry, was a vocal proponent for America's joining the 2015 Paris climate change agreement with the United Nations and nearly 200 other nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Kerry spoke often about climate change being the top threat the nation faces.

Heinz Kerry did not provide a statement on Thursday's announcement with Gore. Instead, Grant Oliphant, president of the endowments, said, "No place on the planet is immune to the effects of climate change, and no city in America has staked its future on remaking its relationship with the environment as clearly as Pittsburgh has."

He said the partnership with the Climate Reality Project sends "a message to the world that Pittsburgh remains a beacon of environmental promise and possibility."

The training will be the first to be held after the premiere of Gore's documentary film "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power." The film is a follow-up to Gore's 2006 effort, "An Inconvenient Truth."

The leadership training will be held as part of the 36th Climate Reality Leadership Corps meeting held in October this year in Pittsburgh.