Al Gore: Where Sustainable Investing Goes From Here
At the end of last year, sustainable investing was having its biggest moment. Climate change was a hot topic and green energy stocks were hitting new highs. Then Covid-19 hit and everything changed.
The global pandemic may be just what’s required to address the environmental crisis once and for all, says former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.
Gore, as the chairman of $19.8 billion asset manager Generation Investment Management, has been investing directly in this arena for the past 16 years. He says in this conversation with Bloomberg News’s Emily Chasan that the coronavirus is unlike anything before — a once-in-a generation opportunity to rethink, reset and redesign the global economy.
Comments have been edited and condensed for clarity and length.
Emily Chasan: You work on looking at these sustainability trends all year, but just a few months ago everything stopped. Which of these long-term trends have seen significant changes during that time?
Al Gore: There is a rising awareness of the need for change. The data confirms the pandemic has triggered fundamental changes in consumer and social behavior, that’s matched by an acceleration in innovation by governments and businesses. We find that there is a growing awareness that the world’s collective social and economic fate is inextricably linked to that of the natural world.
EC: What has this shown you about how people change behavior and listen to scientists? Does this reveal anything about your long-time fight on climate change?
AG: The pandemic drove home that when the scientists — in this case epidemiologists and virologists — are giving you a clear warning that you have to prepare for something that’s headed your way, it’s best not to ignore them. Their advice can’t be just brushed off.
We also find that we’re going to have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions annually over the next decade by almost as much as we’ve seen emissions drop during the pandemic. Luckily, there are some fundamental changes in technology and business that give us an excellent chance to do this.