Bill Gates, Zuckerberg, tech leaders launch fund for clean energy breakthroughs

Tech giants worldwide are willing to invest zero-emission technologies to prevent an energy crisis in the future.

Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Richard Branson are among a group of tech titans which have launched the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, an investment fund designed to promote zero-emission technologies.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the launch of the fund over the weekend, just ahead of the COP21 climate change conference in Paris, where world leaders will meet to discuss global warming and today's energy issues.

The Breakthrough Energy Coalition aims to encourage investment in carbon-neutral technologies which offer widely available energy which is reliable, affordable and eco-friendly.

The organization is primarily interested in research efforts linked to "novel technologies and innovations which enable current technologies to be dramatically more efficient, scalable, or cheaper."

BEC plans to invest in a number of sectors including electricity generation and storage, transport, industry, agriculture and energy system efficiency.

In a blog post, Bill Gates says that while wind and solar power have a part to play in a future without carbon footprints, given the scale of the challenge in keeping the world operational as fossil fuels become more scarce, "many different paths" need to be explored. Gates says:

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"Private companies will ultimately develop these energy breakthroughs, but their work will rely on the kind of basic research that only governments can fund. Both have a role to play."

Members of the coalition include Bill Gates, Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Amazon chief Jeff Bezos and Alibaba Group executive chairman Jack Ma, among others.

While no formal investment amounts have been released, the list of heavyweights who have joined the scheme amounts to hundreds of billions of dollars.

"We already invest in renewable and clean energy for our Facebook facilities today, but we believe that building a positive future for the next generation also means investing in long term projects that companies and governments don't fund. This is an important focus for us, and we'll share more about it in the coming days," Zuckerberg says.

"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."

In addition to the launch of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, Bill Gates is also meeting leaders at the summit to tie up Mission Innovation, a commitment by over 10 countries to invest more in clean energy projects. (Ironically the United Kingdom is part of the agreement, just as the UK government scraps solar panel subsidies).

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