Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Other Tech Moguls join forces to solve climate change
Technologies aimed at bringing affordable and reliable clean energy to the planet have brought together a number of the world’s most powerful figures in tech to invest in them.
Bill Gates, the world’s wealthiest person and Microsoft’s co-founder and philanthropist will launch the world’s largest endeavor, the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, at the climate change summit in Paris alongside President Obama and French President Francois Hollande. The announcement comes on day one of the United Nations climate change talks in Paris.
The fund will be fed by a group that spans more than two dozen public and private entities — including national governments, billionaire philanthropists, investment fund managers and tech CEOs.
“The renewable technologies we have today, like wind and solar, have made a lot of progress and could be one path to a zero-carbon energy future. But given the scale of the challenge, we need to be exploring many different paths — and that means we also need to invent new approaches,” Gates said in a statement.
Among the list of backers are Alibaba CEO Jack Ma, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Meg Whitman of HP and Virgin Group’s Richard Branson. The organization’s membership roster includes some of the most prolific names in technology, including Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos, Jack Ma, and Masayoshi Son.
During the event, Gates and U.S. President Barack Obama are expected to unveil a significant new initiative called Mission Innovation, which will work with governments to double public investments in energy research over the next five years.
The coalition work with 20 countries that are participating in Mission Innovation, an initiative that will see these nations double their energy research investments over the next five years to $20 billion.
“Private companies will ultimately develop these energy breakthroughs, but their work will rely on the kind of basic research that only governments can fund,” Gates added.
According to government data, the U.S. spends about $5 billion on energy R&D compared to $31 billion on health care research and nearly $70 billion on defense research.
Mission Innovation and the Breakthrough Energy Coalition are separate programs, but will work closely together in countries that have committed to reducing carbon emissions.
On its website, the Breakthrough Energy Coalition explains that its goal is to cover gaps in government funding in countries by commercializing the most promising and scalable ideas to come out of public research institutions. More specifically, the group will consider early stage investment opportunities in sectors like electricity generation and storage, transportation, agriculture and energy system efficiency.