Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg launch clean energy research fund

Breakthrough Energy Coalition aims to spur private sector research ahead of Paris climate climate change conference

Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg have launched a new global initiative aimed at spurring private sector investment in clean energy. 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. 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.

Gates is also expected to join President Barack Obama in announcing a separate clean energy program in Paris on Monday. Known as “Mission Innovation,” the initiative aims to double public investments in energy research over the next five years, according to The Washington Post, from a total of $10 billion to $20 billion. Nineteen governments have signed on to the program, including the US, China, and India.

The Breakthrough Energy Coalition will work with countries participating in Mission Innovation to facilitate “large funding commitments for basic and applied research.” According to its site, the coalition will also focus its investments on “early stage companies that have the potential of an energy future that produces near zero carbon emissions and provides everyone with affordable, reliable energy.” No funding totals have been disclosed.

“Solving the clean energy problem is an essential part of building a better world,” Zuckerberg wrote in his Facebook post. “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.”

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