Over the weekend, a United Nations panel warned that the world was on a precarious trajectory and that the effects of climate change would spiral out of control unless nations collectively agreed to dramatic cuts in pollution.

Always quick to join the climate change chorus is former Vice President and Current TV co-founder Al Gore . In his keynote address at Columbia University's Social Enterprise Conference last Friday, the Nobel Peace Prize winner echoed that oh-so-familiar refrain. Though, this time he offered some key advice for entrepreneurs interested in overcoming environmental challenges through the power of business.

Gore discussed the lessons he learned in the private sector and how businesses can aid the climate movement, while also thriving. Here are three key takeaways from his speech: 

Don't expect results immediately. Gore and his business partner, David Blood at partner at the London sustainability-focused investing firm, Generation Investment Management, knew that Rome wasn't built in a day. "We spent a full year developing our team," says Gore. "Then we spent a year of investing our own money before finally taking on clients in the third year." 

Beware of being hyper-focused. "If you only see the numbers on Bloomberg screens," wans Gore, "you’re missing a lot. You can’t assume everyone else is either; this hurts your ability to see the bigger picture." 

Be pioneers. "Business is ahead of politics by a long shot," says Gore. Businesses have taken the lead on confronting climate change, and they shouldn't wait for the rest of the world and politics to catch up. 

When it comes to changing the world, Gore's advice is simple: "You have to make a choice to make things better."

Published on: Nov 3, 2014