He declared a state of "planetary emergency". In return, Al Gore was yesterday awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, which he will share with the world's leading climate scientists.

The former US vice-president and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were awarded the prize for galvanising action against global warming before it "moves beyond man's control".

Mr Gore last year starred in his own Oscar-winning documentary film, An Inconvenient Truth, to warn of the dangers of man-made climate change.

Mr Gore, 59, said he was deeply honoured and that he would try to use it to speed up the change in awareness about global warming. "We face a true planetary emergency. The climate crisis is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity."

Committee chairman Ole Danbolt Mjoes said: "We wish to put climate on the agenda in connection with peace. Al Gore is probably the individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that must be adopted."

The scientific accuracy of his film has been challenged but yesterday leading climate scientists were quick to rally around him.

Professor Bill McGuire, Benfield UCL Hazard Research Centre, said: "Mr Gore is not a scientist, and his film is far from perfect, but the two have played a critical role in dragging climate change to the top of the agenda."