Gore Sees Sustainable Investments Eclipsing `Tens of Trillions'

  • Former VP created firm with former Goldman partner David Blood
  • Generation Investment Management seeks public, private deals

Al Gore started an investment business a dozen years ago, aiming to put money in the sort of companies that aligned with his vision of a world in transition.

Now, he says, the world is starting to realize the potential profits of a shift toward greater sustainability.

“I think it’s the biggest investment and business opportunity in the history of the world,” Gore said in an interview in Berlin Tuesday, noting that some have estimated “tens of trillions” of dollars in investment. 

“I think it’s understated,” he said.

The 67-year-old former U.S. vice president is the chairman and co-founder of Generation Investment Management, which he created with former Goldman Sachs Co. partner David Blood in 2004. Blood and Gore said they’re buoyed by recent developments like the historic agreement around limiting fossil-fuel pollution reached at a United Nations conference on climate change in Paris late last year. 

“The transition will cover everything we have done so far,” Blood, Generation’s senior partner, said in an interview. “It’s not just power, it’s how buildings are built, it’s how you get to work, it’s what you eat, it’s every aspect of our lives.”

The velocity of change is accelerating, the pair said. Broad agreements on climate change and the ability to measure results through new technologies are helping. Blood compared the shift to the industrial revolution, which took about 200 years. “What we are talking about now is 25 years or 35 years, maximum. And more likely, you need to do it in the next five to 10 years.”

Generation, with offices in London and New York, manages more than $12 billion in assets, in public equities and alternative investments like private equity. The pair spoke to existing and potential investors at the annual SuperReturn International conference, which devoted a number of sessions to sustainability.

Generation seeks to invest in companies that its sustainability-focused research indicates may have the potential to deliver higher investment returns, either through the appreciation of public stocks or private investments. Its analysis focuses on issues such as climate change, natural resource scarcity and urbanization to identify deals.

Blood headed Goldman Sachs Asset Management before creating Generation. Gore, after losing the U.S. presidency to George W. Bush in a Supreme Court decision in 2000, went on to a career in writing, technology and investing, serving on the board of directors of Apple Inc. and as an adviser to Google. He was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, which he shared with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

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