Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, and a roster of other high-profile tech figures are launching a new organisation designed to invest in renewable energy technologies.
It is called the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, and says its aim is to create “a network of private capital committed to building a structure that will allow informed decisions to help accelerate the change to the advanced energy future our planet needs.”
Announced ahead of a major UN climate change conference in Paris this week, the coalition’s members say that enough isn’t being done from established organisations to drive forward research and investment into clean energy.
Writing on Facebook late Sunday night, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that “solving the clean energy problem is an essential part of building a better world … yet progress towards a sustainable energy system is too slow, and the current system doesn’t encourage the kind of innovation that will get us there faster.”
Likewise, the Coalition’s website says that “the existing system of basic research, clean energy investment, regulatory frameworks, and subsidies fails to sufficiently mobilize investment in truly transformative energy solutions for the future. We can’t wait for the system to change through normal cycles.”
In short: Established investors are moving much too slowly towards the renewable energy, and it’s too important to wait for that to sort itself out naturally.
“The world is going to be using 50 per cent more energy by mid-century than it does today. That should be good news, especially for the world’s poorest, because right now more than 1 billion people live without access to basic energy services,” former Microsoft CEO and serial philanthropist Bill Gates wrote in a blog post. “Affordable and reliable energy makes it easier for them to grow more food, run schools and hospitals and businesses, have refrigerators at home, and take advantage of all the things that make up modern life. Low- and middle-income countries need energy to develop their economies and help more people escape poverty.”
But, he goes on: “the world’s growing demand for energy is also a big problem, because most of that energy comes from hydrocarbons, which emit greenhouse gases and drive climate change. So we need to move to sources of energy that are affordable and reliable, and don’t produce any carbon.”
The Breakthrough Energy Coalition says it will look at “early stage companies that have the potential of an energy future that produces near zero carbon emissions and provides everyone with affordable, reliable energy.” It says it will invest in multiple sectors, including agriculture, transportation, and electricity generation.
There’s no word yet on how much the Coalition intends to invest, but it’s likely to be substantial: Many of its members are worth tens of billions of dollars.
Members include Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce; Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos; Richard Branson, founder of Virgin; Jonn Doerr, a general partner at VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers; Bill Gates; LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman; Jack Ma, executive chairman of Alibaba, Neil Shen, founding managing partner of Sequoia Capital; George Soros; Mark Zuckerberg, and more.
Here’s a video featuring Bill Gates released alongside the announcement:
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