Palmer United Party leader Clive Palmer and former US Vice President Al Gore at their joint press conference. Photo: AAP
Al Gore was urged by his US-based advisers to pull out of the Clive Palmer press conference when it became clear the Palmer United Party would not link its support for the abolition of the carbon tax to an immediate move to an emissions trading scheme.
Key figures behind the year's strangest political alliance have confirmed Mr Palmer was shown legal advice that Australia could easily move directly from a fixed price on carbon to an ETS.
When Mr Palmer could not convince his three incoming senators to place conditions on their support to repeal the carbon tax, Mr Gore's advisers told him to pull out of a public appearance with Mr Palmer.
''There was no agreement, it had fallen over four times, but Gore overrode the advice he was getting and said 'if this guy is willing to save the clean energy elements [the Renewable Energy Target, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Climate Change Authority] I will stand beside him','' a source said.
As a former vice-president of the US, Mr Gore has a full-time chief of staff and a communications adviser. As chairman of the Climate Reality Project, a multinational charity, he has personal staff and advisers.
In Australia, he was represented by Don Henry, a director of Mr Gore's Climate Reality Project and the former head of the Australian Conservation Foundation.
Mr Henry confirmed Mr Gore made his own decision on joining Mr Palmer for the most talked about Canberra press conference since the implosion of Labor.
''They had a full and frank discussion, they had significant agreement that the rest of the world was starting to move on these issues. What President Obama has been saying on the need for action was important as was provinces in China that are adopting emissions trading schemes,'' Mr Henry said.
Flanked by Mr Gore, Mr Palmer pledged his support for a zero dollar ETS that could be activated when the world reached agreement on tackling climate change.
Mr Gore has been heavily criticised for adding legitimacy to an event that was less about action on climate change and more about terminating one of the world's first attempts to put a price on carbon.
He later insisted that the announcement was not about dismantling a working climate change policy. ''The effect of what he announced is to save most of the important elements of the Australian climate policy. The Renewable Energy Target has been the element of Australian policy responsible for most of the carbon reductions,'' Mr Gore told Vice website.