I attended Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth lecture in Toronto tonight. I assume many of you have seen the movie so I’m not going to go into the details of the presentation, which is essentially the same as the movie give-or-take a couple of slides. Instead, I’m going to share with you some of the thoughts I had as I was listening to the former VP. Firstly, I bought this whole climate change thing a long time ago and I’ve seen the movie, so substantively I got very little out of this. As with the movie, I thought Gore spent a disproportionate amount of time going over the evidence proving that climate change is actually occurring, and not enough on discussing how, in practical terms, we can solve the climate problem. This brings me to my second main thought. One of the most fundamental drivers behind my confidence that cleantech and alt energy represent very attractive investment stories in the long run is the fact that they offer plenty of opportunities to have the cake and eat it too. Climate change and the environment are increasingly on the radar of politicians, and that’s only going to intensify as various ecological services (e.g. climate control, fresh water, etc.) get scarcer. This means that politicians will be pressured to take action, and that this action will create tremendous opportunities in a number of fields. What I think is the main missing link in Gore’s crusade is a stronger focus on how embracing cleantech will not only help humanity solve its environmental problems, but also how it will help create value fro investors and generate economic growth. I think it is high time that pundits and politicians move away from a constant focus on the downsides (environmentally as much as economically) to a focus on the opportunities related to climate change. As I’ve said before, this isn’t about changing the size of the pie, it’s about altering its composition. My humble advice to Al Gore (and to all of you out there who do this sort of stuff): re-weight the content of your presentation to focus on the value creation angle of climate change, and show investors and the public at large that not only is this nothing to be afraid of, but, that, if the regulatory and incentive frameworks put in place to deal with climate change are constructed adequately, many investors and companies will stand to make lots of money. This is not, in my view, a negative-sum game, and that’s the point that needs to be driven home.
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