Al Gore teams with Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, and Harvard on a climate asset fund
Al Gore’s investment management firm will launch a new climate-focused asset fund ahead of COP26, the global climate conference that begins next week.
Just Climate was launched by Generation Investment Management, a London- and San Francisco–based investment firm founded in 2004. Gore is chairman of Generation; founding partner David Blood, a former CEO of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, will serve as chair of Just Climate.
The new fund is backed by a household-name group of investors. Those include Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund; the IMAS Foundation, which is tied to the parent foundation that controls Ikea; Harvard Management Company, which invests Harvard’s endowment; an impact investing subsidiary of Goldman Sachs; Hall Capital Partners; and the investment fund of the Republic of Ireland.
“The sustainable investment industry has grown rapidly in recent years, a welcome development that gives the world a better chance of creating a net-zero, prosperous, equitable, healthy, and safe society,” Gore said in a release. “However, the climate crisis now demands an increase in the speed and scale of our collective actions by accelerating our current efforts and at the same time innovating new climate financing models.”
The group behind the fund said it would invest in “catalytic” climate solutions in energy, transport, and industry, as well as “natural” climate solutions, food, agriculture, and oceans. One thing missing in the fund’s initial announcement, however, are the numbers—it’s not yet clear how large it will actually be. Generation had about $36 billion under management as of June 2021, according to its website.
The fund is only one of a host of high-profile climate-focused funds that have been emerging—or gaining momentum—in recent months, as climate pressure intensifies, as well as the opportunities for businesses willing to invest in the energy transition. Other high-profile efforts include Bill Gates–backed Breakthrough Energy Ventures, which makes early investments in climate and renewable technology.
Major agencies have warned that the scale of investment required to increase the renewable energy supply is enormous. This month, the International Energy Agency puts the figure at about $4 trillion per year.
However, while the need for dramatic investment in climate solutions is uncontroversial, the extent to which investments made by financial institutions and investment managers serve those goals has increasingly drawn skepticism. In one now well-known example, the former head of sustainable investing at BlackRock hit out at ESG investing, calling it “sustain-a-babble.” Gore himself has warned that “the threat of ESG is rising.”
But in July, Gore spoke to Fortune about his perspective on the pace of momentum behind action on climate change, adding that he was hopeful. He summed it up in a favorite quote: “Things take longer to happen than you think they will, and then they happen faster than you thought they could.”
That “really does describe where the world has been and is going, and the speed with which the transition is taking place in the real economy.”
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