What Zuckerberg And Gates Teaming Up Really Means For Clean Energy In 2016
……Announcing the Breakthrough Energy Coalition
The timing was appropriate for the announcement of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition. It occurred on the eve of the COP21 climate change conference in Paris. In a Facebook post announcing the coalition, with his wife Priscilla and Gates, Zuckerberg stated:
“Solving the clean energy problem is an essential part of building a better world. We won’t be able to make meaningful progress on other challenges — like educating or connecting the world — without secure energy and a stable climate. 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.”
He also added that “The Breakthrough Energy Coalition will invest in ideas that have the potential to transform the way we all produce and consume energy.”
Paralleling the announcement of the coalition, Gates joined the leaders of 20 nations for Mission Innovation, which according to its website, “aims to reinvigorate and accelerate global clean energy innovation with the objective to make clean energy widely affordable.”
The participating countries plans to increase annual spending on research and to $20 billion. On the private sector, Gates and Zuckerberg are among 28 wealthy investors, which also includes Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos, and Jack Ma, “will provide capital for early, high-risk research on the most promising technologies.”
The biggest question that we should be asking is whether or not is how the Breakthrough Energy Coalition is going to affect the future of clean energy.
Fulfilling A Need For Clean Energy
The Paris-based International Energy Agency conducted a study which found “that despite a few recent success stories, clean-energy progress is falling well short of the levels needed to limit the global increase in temperatures to no more than 2 degrees C.” Furthermore, the IEA claimed that “it will be challenging for the world to meet its climate goals solely through the UN negotiation process that is expected to yield an agreement this December in Paris.” Because of this, the IEA suggests that there is an urgent need to develop and deploy “groundbreaking technologies” to combat the changes in climate.
Both Gates and Zuckerberg have been aware of this as well.
In a blog post from July 2015, Gates announced that he had planned to “invest $1 billion in clean energy technology over the next five years.” As for Zuckerberg, he notes that Facebook has already been investing in renewable and clean energy at the company’s facilities.
The Breakthrough Energy Coalition is continuing to address the need for clean energy by bringing together both the private and public sectors, which have a bigger impact than the measures already taken by Gates and Zuckerberg.
Given the recent ‘historic’ deal announced at COP21, with a total of 195 countries agreeing to limit global warming to below 2C by the end of the century, it makes sense to strike while the iron is hot and continue to push for active participation in research and development for clean energy solutions.
As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, “The time has come to acknowledge that national interests are best served by acting in the international interest. We have to do as science dictates. We must protect the planet that sustains us. We need all our hands on deck.”
The Coalition Will Attract Investors
Just like the “Giving Pledge,” the Breakthrough Energy Coalition will be able to attract the world’s wealthiest entrepreneurs and investors. While part of that may be due to competition or being socially conscious, the fact is that the coalition is making clean energy a profitable opportunity for the private sector.