Government and business leaders plan to spend tens of billions of dollars in the next five years to develop clean
energy technology in efforts to fight global warming, an official and a former official have told The Associated Press.
The initiative, which will be announced Tuesday along with the opening of the United Nations climate summit, involves Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande, according to a French official and a former US official who weren’t authorised to talk on the record.
France, the U.S., India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Canada and Norway have already decided to participate in the “ambitious” project that will aim at developing clean energies, the French official said.
The amount of money involved, from countries, companies and individuals would be in the tens of billions of dollars, according to the former US government official, who is familiar with the initiative, and a document obtained by the AP. The money would be geared toward research and development of technologies, such as energy storage that could make clean power from wind and solar more usable regardless of weather vagaries.
“They are committed to making increased investments in existing technologies and new breakthrough technologies to lower the cost of emissions reductions,” the former US government official said. The former official said what’s especially important to Gates is the idea of alleviating energy poverty, which is millions of people who can’t get energy. That includes parts of India.
Their pledges will be conditional on governments also pledging more money for that purpose, the former US official said.
According to an early draft of the initiative, which at the time was called “Mission Innovation,” governments participating were pledging to double their clean energy research and development spending in the next five years.
The complicated thing for the US is getting such funds approved by a Republican Party controlled Congress.
“The Obama administration recognises that this is a fundamental competitive advantage for the United States. It’s time to double down on that competitive advantage” and invest far more in clean energy research and development, the former US official said.
The official highlighted storing electricity, which is especially crucial for wind and solar power that can be intermittent because of the weather. One key there is improving batteries and there have been breakthroughs both in technology and production announced this year. One of those was space and electric car tycoon Elon Musk, whose Gigafactory has started to produce large batteries for home power storage to make solar and wind power more viable.
The conference centre that will host the climate summit that starts officially Tuesday with more than 140 world leaders and continues for two weeks with lower level negotiators started off quiet
Monday and started to bustle as the day grew on. UN climate chief Christiana Figueres said that she remained optimistic about the outcome.
Formal negotiations between lower level officials are scheduled to begin Tuesday, more than 140 leaders are expected to arrive, including leaders of the United States, China and Russia, to talk about their commitment to fight climate change and reduce ever-rising carbon dioxide emissions.
Armed security was noticeable nearly everywhere at the Le Bourget centre where negotiations will take place. The Le Bourget center formally became a temporary UN site in a ceremony Sunday in which French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who is president of the summit, handed over the keys to the site to Figueres.
Meanwhile, empty shoes were lined up in downtown Paris ahead of the start of international climate negotiations Monday filling in for global warming protesters who were not permitted to march because of security after this month’s attacks. Instead environmental advocacy groups held marches outside of Paris and around the world.

– AP
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Climate change protests have taken part around the world to support climate activists in Paris whose march has been prevented by French authorities due to the recent attacks. Photo / Getty Images