Al Gore: Climate change is a huge business opportunity

The former US vice president said he is at the annual startup event Slush to recruit the attendees to solve the world's biggest problems - and to make money on the side.

Al Gore speaking at investor conference Slush in Helsinki on Thursday. Image: Tiina Jutila / Yle

The former US vice president Al Gore said in his keynote speech at Slush on Thursday that climate change is a huge business opportunity. The annual startup jamboree opened on Thursday, welcoming 20,000 attendees, 2,600 companies and 1,500 investors to the Finnish capital for two days of frenetic pitching, presentations and deal-making.

Opening the event, keynote speaker Gore said he had not come to the annual event in Helsinki to entertain the attendees, but to recruit them to help solve the world's biggest problems - and to make money on the side.

Gore's big message was that climate change is a business opportunity. In 2004, Gore co-founded Generation Investment Management, which invests in sustainable companies including Proterra, a manufacturer of electric buses.

Food prices to rise

As climate change hits and agricultural production suffers, the price of food will rise. As a result, up to a billion people may leave their homes in the next decades, warned Gore, who narrowly lost the 2000 US presidential election.

Gore added that he is optimistic about the Paris Agreement on climate. Even though US president Donald Trump has stated that the US will withdraw from the 2016 agreement designed to cut greenhouse gases, the next president could easily rejoin it, noted Gore.

Besides, many states such as California and thousands of companies remain committed to the Paris accord regardless of Trump's plans, Gore said.

Princely visits

Slush also welcomed other celebrities including Prince Daniel of Sweden and the Duke of Cambridge, who is second in line to the English throne.

The Duke, better known as Prince William, received two handmade hobbyhorses for his children, referencing a recent Finnish craze for older children to use the equine toys, before heading to Helsinki city centre to gladhand well-wishers and meet Santa Claus.