Billionaires Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Richard Branson and other high-profile entrepreneurs have sworn to create a “new economic revolution” based around clean energy after launching a new investment movement for renewables.
The Breakthrough Energy Coalition, made up of over 25 investors from 10 countries, launched on Monday in Paris as part of the UN talks where countries are whipping out an agreement to finally tackle the issue of runaway climate change.
Mainly, the group will invest in early-stage clean energy companies across a variety of sectors, such as agriculture, transport and electricity generation and storage. The strategy has been announced together with Mission Innovation – an endeavor from 21 governments, including Brazil, China, Germany, Australia, Britain and the US, to double the sum of public money going into clean energy innovation.
It’s predicted this will reinforce governmental assistance in renewables like solar to wind energy to $20 billion.
The Breakthrough Energy Coalition includes Virgin Group head Richard Branson, Facebook co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Other investors include founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, and founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman.
Gates stated that the world will be using 50% more energy by the middle of this century than it currently does. He added that the renewable technologies available today like solar and wind have made a lot of progress and could be one way to a zero-carbon clean energy future. However, given the magnitude of the challenge, we need to be investigating several different ways – and that includes invention of new approaches. Private companies will eventually develop these energy breakthroughs; however, their work will rely on the type of basic research that only governments can fund.
Zuckerberg stated that present progress towards sustainable clean energy is too slow. Branson added that we have to produce an abundance of renewable, clean energy and push further innovation to ensure that the next generation of energy is more efficient.
Hoffman stated that attempts to transform energy sources have struggled because they need collaboration between public and private sectors.
The group hasn’t put a dollar amount on its level of investment, but said it will be concentrating its resources on government-funded innovation that comes from nations signed up to the Mission Innovation initiative.
Last year, global investment in clean energy increased to $270 billion, the first considerable increase after a three-year pause in investment. Leading the way was China with $89 billion, followed by the US at $51 billion for renewables.
The reducing costs for renewables – for example, solar has reduced in price by 70% since 2009 – has helped strengthen installation. However, experts have warned that dependency on fossil fuels will have to be dialed back faster if the globe is to avoid dangerous climate change charged by greenhouse gases.
Most of the globe’s electricity can –and must – be made by low-carbon clean energy sources by 2050, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on climate change. The panel stated that renewables have to grow from a 30% share today to 80% of power generation by 2050, with storage technology and fossil fuel energy without carbon capture phased out by 2100.
Executive director of environment group the Sierra club, Michael Brune, stated that clean energy was already winning the war against fossil fuels.