Al Gore: ignored concerns

ENVIRONMENTAL champion Al Gore has ignored concerns that an Irish company in which he invested processes uncertified timber which could support illegal logging and fuel global warming.

The man behind An Inconvenient Truth, who has garnered a reputation as one of the world's most vociferous advocates of a green future, was contacted a year ago by campaigners concerned about the company.

Gore's Generation Investment Management (GIM) firm, which is based on sustainable investment, extended its share in Kingspan, a construction company, to 12% last autumn, its largest holding in a single company.

However, non-government organisation Progressio Ireland has written to the former US vice-president advising him that Kingspan does not utilise certifying systems designed to prevent the spread of illegal logging.

The black-market industry is a major contributor to global warming, a concern at the heart of GIM's strategy.

In spite of this, neither Gore nor management at GIM res­ponded to concerns raised by Progressio almost a year after receiving its correspondence.

The letter, seen by the Sunday Tribune, said: "Kingspan, which describes itself as a manufacturer of sustainable building solutions, appears to be a good fit for your company's investment focus on sustainable capitalism.

"However… Kingspan does not have a policy of using only certified timber that ensures it is legal and from sustainable sour­ces."

A company spokesman said that while it has no certification in Ireland, it is satisfied that the sourcing of timber for its products is done through companies who are.

He said Kingspan would only procure timber from sources "who maintain chain- of-custody compliance with either FSC or PEFC criteria", referring to the two principal certification bodies.

The company also adheres to International Standards Organisation (ISO) rules.

William Merivale of PEFC Ireland, which certifies logging companies, said it was a small step for ISO-compliant companies to become fully certified and said he was surprised Gore had not taken more interest.

He added that consumers could never be fully confident in timber products unless they were certified to the very last stage.