Tony Blair gets another new job – in Silicon Valley

Andy McSmith
Wednesday 26 May 2010 00:00

Tony Blair's crusading belief in science as a way of solving global warming has landed him another lucrative business appointment. The former Prime Minister has been hired as a senior adviser by a Silicon Valley firm which is planning to invest hundreds of millions of pounds in green technology.

The post means that Mr Blair will be practising what he preached when he pleaded with world leaders ahead of the Copenhagen climate change summit not to allow global warming to cause conflict between developed western nations and the developing eastern nations.

"There are huge business opportunities in green technology whether you are in London or California, China or India," Mr Blair said in August last year, four months before the summit opened. He has now landed one of those business opportunities himself, by a securing a new role as part time public policy adviser to Khosla Ventures, which was founded in 2004 by the Indian born billionaire Vinod Khosla. It is a venture capital firm looking to invest £770 million in clean technology.

Mr Blair's role will be to provide advice that will help open up foreign markets for firms such as the manufacturer Calera, which uses carbon dioxide to create cement products, or Pax Streamline, which aims to make air conditioning environmentally friendly.

"The more I studied the whole climate change issue and linking it with energy, security and development issues, I became absolutely convinced that the answer is in the technology," Mr Blair told the New York Times. "Technological breakthroughs that are economically viable – for governments, that's the holy grail."

It has not been disclosed how much he will be paid in his new role, but it is likely that his fee will be in six figures, furnishing yet more proof that being an ex-prime minister is much more lucrative than being a serving one.

While David Cameron makes do with an annual salary of £142,500 – augmented by his wife Samantha's earnings – Mr Blair has accumulated at least £15m in the three years since he left office. Some estimate that the figure is nearer £20m.

He was paid an advance of £4.6m for his memoirs, which will be published in September. He is one of the world's highest paid public speakers, collecting a fee of almost £400,000 for two 30-minute speeches he delivered during a 36-hour stopover in the Philippines in April last year.

He is paid around £3.5m a year as a senior adviser to the Wall Street bank JP Morgan, and another £500,000 a year for a similar role at Zurich Financial Services. In March, the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, which vets jobs taken by ex-ministers, revealed that Mr Blair is also a "governance adviser" to the Kuwait government, for which he is believed to have received another £1m.

In addition to this highly paid work, Mr Blair has a diary crammed with good works which he carries out unpaid, notably his role as peace representative in the Middle East. He also runs the African Governance Initiative, which provides advice on good government to Sierra Leone and other African states, and the Breaking the Climate Deadlock initiative, which aims to secure an international agreement on global warming.

Then there is the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, which aims to promote understanding about the world's major religions, and the Tony Blair Sports Foundation, which was set up to encourage young people in the north east of England to take part in sport.

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