No one doubts that Al Gore is sincere in his belief that the world faces a catastrophic threat from so-called climate change.
But his crusade to cut down global carbon emissions is also about to make him very rich indeed.
Last year the former vice president’s venture capital company, Kleiner Perkins, invested $75 million in a company called Silver Spring Networks, a California-based organization that produces hardware and software that makes the American electricity grid more efficient.
Now, Silver Spring looks set to cash in after the U.S. Department of Energy awarded $560 million worth of so-called “smart grid” projects to companies with which Silver Spring already has contracts.
That, and the likelihood of further contracts in the future, means Gore could recoup his initial investment many times over, with some predicting he could become the world’s first “carbon billionaire.”
However, his good fortune has prompted some critics on the right to accuse him of abusing his political contacts to push government contracts toward companies in which he has invested.
One, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican, has claimed that Gore stood to benefit personally from the energy and climate policies he was urging Congress to adopt.
Gore had said that he is simply putting his money where his mouth is.
“Do you think there is something wrong with being active in business in this country?” Gore said.
“I am proud of it. I?am proud of it.”