Bill Gates joins $170bn climate change investment club

Clean tech on the list

Bill Gates is leading a $1bn climate-change venture with a roll-call of tech’s biggest names.

Microsoft’s co-founder has joined Breakthrough Energy, described as investing in “reliable, affordable, zero-carbon energy, food and products for the world.”

The first investment is reported to be in clean tech.

Gates is reported to have told Quartz: “We need affordable and reliable energy that doesn’t emit greenhouse gas to power the future and to get it we need a different model for investing in good ideas and moving them from the lab to the market.”

A string of millionaire entrepreneurs and business captains are joining Gates, including Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos, PayPal and LinkedIn founder-turned VC Reid Hoffman, Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla, Alibaba Group chief Jack Ma and the co-founder of SAP, Hasso Plattner.

The group’s net worth clocks in at $170bn.

The group came into being as a climate-change sceptical White House prepares to come into office.

US president-elect Donald Trump reportedly told US network Fox on Sunday “nobody really knows” if climate change is real.

Trump's new head of the US Environmental Protection Agency is Oklahoma attorney General Scott Pruitt, a climate change doubter currently suing the agency.

“The dialogue with the new administration as it comes in about how they see energy research will be important...the general idea that research is a good deal fortunately is not a partisan thing,” Gates is reported to have said.

Separately the venture arm of Gate’s old firm, Microsoft, is partnering with AI incubator Element AI. The deal will see startups use Microsoft’s Azure cloud. Microsoft Ventures has invested in 19 firms since its creation in May in AI, IoT and other fields. ®

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