Aug 12, 2021 - Economy

Bill Gates pledges $1.5B for climate projects with Energy Department

Photo of Bill Gates speaking from a podium with one hand raised

Photo: K Asif/India Today Group via Getty Images

Bill Gates has pledged $1.5 billion to climate collaborations with the Department of Energy (DOE) through his climate investment fund Breakthrough Energy Catalyst, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The backdrop: Global warming is happening so fast that scientists now say we'll cross a crucial temperature threshold as early as 2030, up to a decade sooner than previously thought. The projects would depend on passage of President Biden's $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, which currently awaits a House vote.

  • The package sets aside $25 billion in DOE funding for public-private partnerships which would cover Gates' Breakthrough.

Details: Gates' program aims to accumulate up to $15 billion over the next three years to fund "climate-smart technologies" across different industries.

  • Such projects with the DOE could include sustainable aviation fuel, long-duration energy storage, green hydrogen that provides fossil fuel-free power and technology that would capture carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere.
  • The ultimate goal is to achieve a net-zero carbon emission economy by 2050, Gates has said.
  • If the infrastructure package doesn't pass, Breakthrough will likely switch funding targets to Europe and Asia, he noted.

What they're saying: "Critical for all these climate technologies is to get the costs down and to be able to scale them up to a pretty gigantic level," Gates told the Journal.

  • "You’ll never get that scale up unless the government’s coming in with the right policies, and the right policy is exactly what’s in that infrastructure bill."

The big picture: A recent UN-sponsored report found that only rapid, steep and sustained greenhouse gas emissions cuts — down to net-zero and eventually net-negative values — could help mitigate climate impacts.

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