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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.

Go deeper

Updated Sep 17, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on powering up clean energy jobs

On Friday, September 17, Axios Climate & Energy reporter Andrew Freedman and Energy reporter Ben Geman hosted a virtual conversation on what building a fair economy with quality clean energy jobs could look like, featuring The Honorable Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and BlueGreen Alliance executive director Jason Walsh.

Sen. Alex Padilla explained how the infrastructure bill puts forth investments toward the environment, the urgency of acting on climate change at a legislative level, and how recent climate emergencies have underscored that urgency. 

  • In response to questions about climate investments in the infrastructure bill: “We need to act with urgency, we need to act boldly, that’s half the equation. It’s okay to have questions on what the price tag is, but of equal importance is knowing that we’re doing this in a fiscally responsible way.” 
  • On garnering necessary bipartisan support for the infrastructure bill to pass: “I do believe we’re going to get to yes at the end of the day, and that end of the day is going to be in the weeks ahead, not the months ahead, because of the urgency that I just laid out.” 

Jason Walsh highlighted the important intersection between climate action and clean energy jobs, the challenges of creating high-quality jobs in the power sector, and how budget reconciliation would help to meet clean energy job goals. 

  • On addressing crises relating to job creation, economic and racial inequality, and the climate emergency: “We have the ability with budget reconciliation to advance solutions to these crises that are as mutually reinforcing and intersecting as their causes. We feel like we can’t afford not to take advantage of this opportunity.”
  • On why budget reconciliation must address the lack of high-quality clean energy jobs: “Not enough of the clean energy jobs that have been created are high quality and union. They have not been created at scale in some of the communities and parts of the country that need them the most, and the lived experience of workers dislocated from incumbent industries, coal mining and power plants, doesn’t meet any reasonable standard of fairness and justice.”

Thank you Bank of America for sponsoring this event.

New lobby group will press an urban agenda in D.C.

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The newly formed Coalition for Urban Innovation consists of 14 companies and nonprofits "dedicated to advancing federal policies that make our cities more sustainable and equitable through technology and innovation."

Why it matters: With the infrastructure bill still a congressional work-in-progress, the group aims to tilt money and policy toward smart infrastructure, energy efficiency, clean energy, reducing the carbon footprint of buildings and the like.

Sep 19, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop - Manchin: Delay Biden plan to '22

Sen. Joe Manchin walks through the Capitol Visitor Center last week. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is privately saying he thinks Congress should take a “strategic pause” until 2022 before voting on President Biden’s $3.5 trillion social-spending package, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Manchin’s new timeline — if he insists on it — would disrupt the plans by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to vote on the budget reconciliation package this month.