Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates will reportedly launch a new multi-billion dollar program to accelerate research and development efforts into clean energy technologies, when the UN Climate Change Conference opens in Paris, France, on Monday.
According to Greenwire, Gates will announce 'Initiative Cleantech' alongside US President Barack Obama, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President François Hollande, as part of an agreement that will double R&D investment in clean energy, and introduce multinational collaboration to boost their efforts.
Gates stood down as chairman of Microsoft last year, but maintains a connection with the tech giant in a Technical Advisor role. He remains the world's richest person, but has committed huge amounts of his personal wealth towards philanthropic causes. In an interview with The Atlantic this month, he said he would personally invest $2 billion as part of new global efforts to develop and deploy cleaner tech.
In July, Gates said on his blog that his own investments to address climate change through clean energy innovation "will matter much less than the choices that governments make", adding:
I think this issue is especially important because, of all the people who will be affected by climate change, those in poor countries will suffer the most. Higher temperatures and less-predictable weather would hurt poor farmers, most of whom live on the edge and can be devastated by a single bad crop. Food supplies could decline. Hunger and malnutrition could rise. It would be a terrible injustice to let climate change undo any of the past half-century’s progress against poverty and disease—and doubly unfair because the people who will be hurt the most are the ones doing the least to cause the problem.
In addition to mitigating climate change, affordable clean energy will help fight poverty.
As Reuters reports today, Gates attended a meeting discussing climate change at the UN General Assembly in September, between President Hollande and Prime Minister Modi. A spokesperson for the Indian PM said at the time that "with people like [Gates] getting involved, there is a real possibility of there being private-sector partnerships on the technology side."
Gates has said previously that he believes the only way to successfully tackle the issues surrounding climate change is to secure funding for development of clean energy technologies from both governments and private investors.