David Blood: A Strong COP15 Treaty Will Unleash Innovation & Green Economy

COPENHAGEN — David Blood, the lesser known partner that makes up the “Blood and Gore” of investment management group Generation Investment (yes, the other is Al Gore), asked Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen this afternoon for a strong treaty at the Copenhagen climate talks that will “limit uncertainty” for the business community, “unleash capital and innovation,” and “provide long term goals for a sustainable economy.” Blood was among a group of panelists that provided their recommendations to Rasmussen on the opening day of the summit, and his words represented some of the first strong public statements at the event from the greentech business community.

Blood’s recommendation didn’t go as far as demanding a legally binding agreement at the event. But he said that at a time when global leaders are looking to shift the world’s expectations away from legally binding terms, it should be reiterated that this is an “urgent” issue requiring significant leadership and effort. He used the term “a strong treaty,” several times and quoted Winston Churchill saying, “Sometimes it is not enough to do our best; we must do what is required.”

The strong treaty that Blood wants would put a price on carbon, foster greentech innovation, move capital to promote development of a low carbon economy and provide funding and capital to protect our forests, he said. The transition to a low carbon economy will be “the most significant change in economic history,” Blood said, and the process will provide a significant challenge but also an opportunity. Blood knows a lot about investment opportunities — he was formerly an investment banker and co-CEO and CEO of Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

But Blood thinks the business community will find more than opportunity in this transition. Business, he said, also has a crucial role to play in delivering the transformation to a low carbon society. The business community has to be involved because between 65 and 75 percent of the capital for this transformation will come from the private sector, said Blood. “The private sector needs a greater certainty for the sense of what the rules of the game will be going forward.”

Founded in 2004, with a climate-focused fund launched in 2007, Generation Investment has a “strategic alliance” with venture firm Kleiner Perkins. Generation closed $683 million back in May 2008 for its climate “crossover” fund, which will be invested in both public and private companies working in sustainable research.

Expect a lot more from the greentech community this week. This afternoon the U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Energy also said it had brought over 100 senior executives to COP15, and is asking for a clearly defined role for the private sector, mid-term investment signals, market-based approaches, and an international financial framework. Later this week business leaders will meet for a day-long event on Friday called Copenhagen Business Day organized by the World Business Council on Sustainable Development, and this weekend there’s the two-day business-focused Bright Green Expo.