The fight to keep global warming to less than 2C is such that we need all the allies we can find so the announcement by Bill Gates that he will spear-head the largest clean energy R&D fund is very welcome. The size of the fund and nature of the co-operative partnerships are particularly encouraging.
Gates has committed to investing some 2% of his own assets in this fund: he is said to be worth $98 ban and has indicated he may invest up to $2 bn in this new fund. If he could persuade the 50 biggest institutional investors in the world to make a similar commitment, that would, in theory, create a fund of circa EUR 770 bn!
But is this the only way that climate aware billionaires can help? Might there be an even more leveraged option? If these mega-wealthy pioneers really want to innovate, the answer is not just in investment products – that’s something that even fully commercial firms can do since it is quite easy to make money from the “booming business of global warming”.
Rather where we really need innovation and leadership is on the much harder front, with investors adopting the forceful stewardship guidelines and asking all the companies that they invest in to disclose their 2C transition plans. Put simply, we need Bill Gates and all the other super-rich who can save us to show innovation in their own integrated thinking and to follow this through with joined-up action. In his case, we need him to ensure the rest of his $98 bn sends signals to the market that don’t negate the signals sent by the niche fund.
And the obvious place to start would be the Bill Gates Foundation since it really has only one person who makes the decisions – unlike the very complex decision-making systems for institutional investors.