The tech billionaires have both raised and pledged $1 billion each to develop clean and green technology, and towards conservation efforts for the world’s most vulnerable natural habitats respectively. 

Bill Gates has raised more than USD$1 billion from seven large American corporate companies to help fund the development of clean and green technology, in the fight against the climate crisis. 

Breakthrough Energy, a non-profit founded by Gates in 2016, announced on September 20 that it has secured funding from Microsoft, BlackRock, General Motors, American Airlines, Boston Consulting Group, Bank of America and ArcelorMittal.

“We’re not doing this to make money,” Larry Fink, BlackRock’s chief executive officer, said in an interview together with Gates on Bloomberg Television. “We’re doing this to seed these ideas, to rapidly accelerate ideas.”

Gates established Breakthrough Energy Catalyst to finance and develop climate solutions to aid the world’s transition towards a zero-carbon economy. This includes investing in green technology such as green hydrogen, sustainable aviation fuel, long-duration battery storage, and carbon capture and storage. 

The co-founder of Microsoft said a “new industrial revolution” is needed for the world to avoid a climate disaster. “Half the technology needed to get to zero emissions either doesn’t exist yet or is too expensive for much of the world to afford,” said Gates. “Catalyst is designed to change that and provide an effective way to invest in our clean technology future.”

“By working with this growing community of private and public partners, Catalyst will take a global view of the energy innovation landscape – the key technologies, leading-edge companies, financing partners, and pivotal policies – and fund the projects that will have the greatest positive impact for our planet,” he added. 

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On the very same day, Jeff Bezos and the leaders of Bezos Earth Fund also pledged  $1 billion to conserve and protect the world’s most vulnerable natural habitats and indigenous peoples, with a focus on the Congo Basin, the tropical Andes, and the tropical Pacific Ocean.

The billion dollar pledge, which is part of Bezos’ prior commitment of $10 billion to fighting climate change, aims to protect 30% of land and sea from mass extinctions and climate change by 2030, and will prioritise funding towards indigenous people who play a major role in conservation programmes. 

“By coming together with the right focus and ingenuity, we can have both the benefits of our modern lives and a thriving natural world,” said the founder of Amazon. “I hope this commitment inspires others to make their own pledges to protect and conserve nature and help in the fight against climate change. A job this big needs many allies.”

Ironically, the new climate pledge comes two months after Bezos, one of the world’s richest men, was on board his company Blue Origin’s first suborbital flights. He and other tech billionaires including Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Virgin’s Richard Branson, are in a race to offer commercial flights to space. 

Scientists warn that soot and emissions from these space flights will have detrimental effects on the environment and exacerbate the effects of climate change. Early research estimates a Virgin Galactic space flight generates as much pollution as a 10-hour trans-Atlantic flight, while a single SpaceX flight – founded by Musk – reportedly can generate a carbon footprint equivalent of 278 people combined.

One can easily make the argument that these billionaires are simply greenwashing with these climate pledges while they continue to contribute to climate change with their space ventures and ties to fossil fuel industries

Featured image by: Wikimedia Commons