Tech Billionaires Team Up to Take On Climate Change

30 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg launch clean energy research fund.

New York: Bill Gates and some of the world’s other richest entrepreneurs have joined governments from both rich and emerging countries to kick off the Paris climate talks by pledging billions of dollars of investment in clean energy technologies.

New York – Bill Gates, the world’s richest man, and fellow philanthropists have revealed details of a fund for clean energy technology to be used in countries that have committed public money to double research and development.US president Barack Obama has told crucial climate change talks in Paris the negotiations represent an act of defiance after the attacks in the city two weeks ago in which 130 people were murdered.

The United States, France, India and 17 other countries will announce they will double the $10 billion they collectively spend on clean energy research and development in the next five years, shining a spotlight on role of technology in any climate agreement reached in Paris. Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, will be joined by at least 27 other private investors in the so-called “Breakthrough Energy Coalition”, including Africa’s richest man, Nigerian businessman Aliko Dangote; Alibaba Group chairman and founder Jack Ma; and Hewlett Packard Enterprise Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman.

Offering his condolences and pledging solidarity with the people of “this beautiful city” Mr Obama said: “We have come to Paris to show our resolve … to protect our people, and to uphold the values that keep us strong and keep us free. Zuckerberg announced the launch of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition on his Facebook page Sunday evening, ahead of this week’s COP21 climate change conference in Paris, where world leaders aim to reach an agreement on limiting the rise in global temperatures. In making investments, the coalition will “take the risks that allow the early stage energy companies” to bring their ideas from the laboratory to the marketplace, according to an emailed statement from the White House on Sunday. Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, are launching the campaign in partnership with Gates; other members of the organization include Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Virgin founder Richard Branson, and Alibaba executive chairman Jack Ma. They will appear alongside Gates, the Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist, who will launch a complementary private-sector effort to fast-track early-stage clean energy technologies.

Speaking ahead of the opening of the talks Mr Kenny said while Ireland secured a unanimous commitment by the European Council last year that its dependence on agriculture would be acknowledged in the calculation of EU emission targets, this was now being interpreted differently by the commission. The twin initiatives will be formally announced on Monday, the opening day of United Nations talks on climate change in Paris scheduled to run through December 11. The investors want to eliminate the “valley of death” between the early promise of a new energy concept and commercializing it into a viable technology, which “neither government funding nor conventional private investment can bridge,” the group said in a statement. He said Ireland would put forward a package that takes account of the importance of agriculture, which accounts for about 29 per cent of emissions, to the country’s economy. And in the US, meanwhile, Republicans in Congress have vowed to fight a deal that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who represents coal-mining state Kentucky, called a “house of cards” that will punish low-income Americans.

He also said Ireland will be making additional contributions to the United Nations Climate Fund, on top of the €2 million already pledged for 2016, in the years ahead. 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.” US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz told reporters the administration will seek congressional support for the extra $5 billion. “We know we’re going to have to drive down the costs of technology deployment and maybe even create some new technologies,” said Jake Schmidt, international programme director at New York-based environmental group Natural Resources Defence Council, who has been briefed on the partnership. “The idea is to show that these countries and these entrepreneurs are going to step up their effort to help speed up the kinds of emissions cuts we’re going to need,” Schmidt said by phone on Sunday. If these talks fail to produce an agreement, the world will be left without an international commitment to prevent dangerous levels of global warming.

Moniz said the idea to come up with a bold R&D plan has been “bubbling now in the last few months” but accelerated in the weeks before the Paris summit. Mr Holland told the assembled leaders and delegates at the opening ceremony that France had put all of its energies into reaching an agreement in Paris. “Your presence here is a sign of hope,” he told world leaders. China, the world’s largest emitter, petro-states Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, EU countries, Canada, Indonesia, Korea and Japan are among the other signatories.

Poor nations must receive particular help, he urged. “We must reaffirm our commitment that the resources will be there [in financial assistance for the developing world]. We must make sure these resources [of climate finance] fall to countries that need help … and help vulnerable populations rebuild stronger after climate related disasters.” A cause for hope, he said, was that a sense of urgency was growing among nations, as well as an increasing realisation that it is within our power to tackle climate change. We need a universal, meaningful and robust agreement.” Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister who is hosting the talks as COP president, said: “Future generations cannot hear us, but in a way they are looking at us now.” David Cameron, the UK prime minister, also urged action.

Leaders will spend most of the rest of the day in private meetings with one another, aimed at ironing out remaining differences and creating an atmosphere of diplomatic cooperation in which a deal can be brokered by the UN. The Paris conference is seen as crucial, as its failure would in effect bring to an end to international efforts under the UN to control greenhouse gas emissions.

Later, British prime minister David Cameron is expected to set out his personal commitment to tackling climate change, pledging support for poorer countries that are likely to suffer most from extreme weather. Mr Cameron will tell the conference he wants “a global deal for a global problem”, with a robust legal framework that would ensure the targets are met.

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