IN BRIEF: World’s most successful industry leaders, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists will invest up to $1 billion in an energy fund led by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. The energy fund will finance companies developing cutting-edge energy technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to almost zero.
Tech Industry Leaders Backing $1 Billion Clean Energy Fund
Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the 20-year fund, is backed by tech luminaries and heavyweights from the energy industry. Illustrious investors include Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com Inc., Jack Ma, the executive chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group Ltd., Silicon Valley venture capitalists John Doerr and Vinod Khosla, Prince Alwaleed Bin Tala, the founder of Kingdom Holding, and John Arnold, a billionaire natural gas trader, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and others.
The goal of Breakthrough Energy Ventures is to bet on risky, long-term energy technologies that could dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions to almost nothing. According to a document released on the official website, the investment will go into areas such as agriculture and transportation, electricity generation and storage, energy system efficiency, and industrial system use.
Bill Gates, who will serve as the fund’s chairman, said in a statement:
“I am honored to work along with these investors to build on the powerful foundation of public investment in basic research. Our goal is to build companies that will help deliver the next generation of reliable, affordable, and emissions-free energy to the world.”
Challenging Trump & Climate Change Denialists
The announcement comes after President-elect Donald Trump picked Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency. In recent years, Pruitt along with other Republican attorneys have played a critical role in blocking Obama administration’s attempts to regulate climate change, deportations, and Wall Street.
The President-elect is also reportedly favoring ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson’s nomination as the next secretary of state. The 64-year-old Tillerson has spent much of his career tapping massive deals with Russia’s oil-and-gas giants. In 2013, Vladimir Putin bestowed Tillerson the Order of Friendship, one of the highest honors Russia gives to foreign citizens.
The President-elect is scheduled to meet a small group of industry leaders in New York City later this week. Bezos has reportedly been invited, although, it’s not clear if other members of the Breakthrough Energy Ventures will be in attendance.
Breakthrough Energy Ventures Fund is a part of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, which Bill Gates launched in December 2015. The BEC was launched alongside Mission Innovation, a clean energy research and development initiative on the opening day of the U.N. climate change summit in Paris. The countries participating in the initiative pledged to double their clean energy technology research and development budgets by 2020.
Bill Gates has spent much of the last year financing clean energy technologies. He maintains that the only way to curtail global warming in the relatively near-term is by finding an energy source that produces zero greenhouse emissions.