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Gates, Branson, Zuckerberg, Bezos, and Ma Launch Breakthrough Energy Coalition

Image Credit: Breakthrough Energy Coalition

“We need innovation that gives us energy that’s cheaper than today’s hydrocarbon energy, that has zero CO2 emissions, and that’s as reliable as today’s overall energy system. And when you put all those requirements together, we need an energy miracle,” Bill Gates recently told The Atlantic.

Luckily, what The Atlantic article called Gates’ “solo global lobbying campaign,” is starting to snowball. The political outcomes of the United Nations climate conference, COP21, may still be unknown, but at least we can expect substantial investment in clean energy following major announcements from earlier this week.

Some of the world’s richest and most influential people committed to support the commercialization of clean energy ideas as part of the newly formed Breakthrough Energy Coalition. Meanwhile, over 20 countries will participate in Mission Innovation, a commitment to double their governmental and/or state-directed clean energy research and development investment over five years.

Gates spearheaded the Coalition, and is joined by 26 other investors from 10 countries. Among them: Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group; Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Facebook, and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, CEO of The Primary School; Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon; Jack Ma, Founder and CEO of Alibaba Group; Marc Benioff, Founder and CEO of Salesforce; Reid Hoffman, Founder of LinkedIn and Partner at Greylock; Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of Indian megacorp Reliance Industries Limited; Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett Packard; and Saudia Arabian HRH Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.

“The world needs to be carbon neutral by 2050. This CAN and HAS to be achieved by governments, business and others coming together to create an energy revolution. The Breakthrough Energy Coalition will help make this a reality,” Branson is quoted on the Coalition’s website. “The next decade presents a great opportunity to invest in businesses and technology aimed at tackling climate change. We must produce an abundance of clean, renewable energy and drive further innovation to make the next generation of energy more efficient. It will benefit the environment, our society and the economy.”

“Our primary goal with the Coalition is as much to accelerate progress on clean energy as it is to make a profit,” Gates wrote in the blog post that broke the news. He further explained the rationale for clean energy investment in a video.

Mission Innovation investments from governments will be “focused on transformational clean energy technology innovations that can be scalable to varying economic and energy market conditions that exist in participating countries and in the broader world,” according to the Joint Launch Statement. The research and development efforts will be “managed to attract private investors willing to advance commercialization.” Participating countries committed to work closely with the private sector to facilitate “clean energy breakthroughs.”

The 20 participating countries are: Australia; Brazil; Canada; Chile; China; Denmark; France; Germany; India; Indonesia; Italy; Japan; Mexico; Norway; Saudi Arabia; South Korea; Sweden; United Arab Emirates; United Kingdom; and the United States.

U.S. President Barack Obama said, “These additional resources will dramatically expand the new technologies that will define a future global power mix that is clean, affordable, and reliable.”

World leaders launch Mission Innovation at COP21 on November 30, 2015. | Image Credit: Gobierno de Chile

Hannah Furlong is an Editorial Assistant for Sustainable Brands, based in Canada. She is researching the circular economy as a Master's student in Sustainability Management at the University of Waterloo and holds a Bachelor's in Environment and Business Co-op. Hannah… [Read more about Hannah Furlong]

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