Heroes

Why Bill Gates' new, ambitious plan to stop climate change just might work.

Bill Gates is announcing a game-changing energy initiative to fight climate change.

Why Bill Gates' new, ambitious plan to stop climate change just might work.

Bill Gates is behind a brand new, game-changing effort taking aim at carbon emissions.

And it's a big move, even by Bill Gates' standards.


Photo by Stefan Postles/Getty Images.

The philanthropist, Microsoft co-founder, and drinker of water-that-was-once-poop is behind a two-pronged international investor-backed push to curb global warming while fighting poverty.

At the UN climate talks in Paris this week, the billionaire is announcing two initiatives that prioritize clean energy technology around the globe.

The first initiative Gates is proposing is called the Breakthrough Energy Coalition.

It's a group of (very) wealthy business leaders who've agreed to invest billions of dollars into "companies that are taking innovative clean energy ideas out of the lab and into the marketplace," Gates wrote on his blog.

The list of 28 investors is impressive.

It includes people like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg...

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

...as well as founder of Virgin Group Richard Branson...

Photo by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images for Free The Children.

...Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos...

Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images.

...and Saudi Arabia's Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who earlier this year agreed to give his entire fortune (somewhere in the ballpark of $32 billion) to philanthropic efforts.

Photo by Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images.

The second part of Gates' announcement is an initiative called Mission Innovation.

Mission Innovation is comprised of 20 countries that have agreed to double their public clean energy research and development investments throughout the next five years.

This is huge! Not only does it include commitments from several big carbon-emitters, like the U.S., but also from less developed — but rapidly growing — countries, like China and India.

President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2014. Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images.

Gates is putting his money where his mouth is, too. Just a few days ago, he committed to putting $2 billion of his money toward clean energy research and development.

In his blog post on the announcement, Gates made sure to point to the importance not just of energizing the developing world in order to fight poverty, but doing so with clean resources:

"The world is going to be using 50% more energy by mid-century than it does today. That should be good news, especially for the world's poorest, because right now more than 1 billion people live without access to basic energy services. Affordable and reliable energy makes it easier for them to grow more food, run schools and hospitals and businesses, have refrigerators at home, and take advantage of all the things that make up modern life. Low- and middle-income countries need energy to develop their economies and help more people escape poverty.

But the world's growing demand for energy is also a big problem, because most of that energy comes from hydrocarbons, which emit greenhouse gases and drive climate change. So we need to move to sources of energy that are affordable and reliable, and don't produce any carbon."

Gates' big news is just one reason to be excited by what's happening in Paris right now.

The COP21 climate summit launched in France on Monday. And if we're lucky, history will remember it as a truly pivotal moment in the global fight against climate change.

Photo by Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty Images.

Beyond Gates' new initiatives, leaders from over 150 countries are in the French capital to reach a legally binding agreement to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the decades ahead. The big picture goal is to keep global temperatures from rising two degrees Celsius from preindustrial levels — a key factor in avoiding the worst climate change has in store for our world.

If ambitious goals are set, the world has every reason to be hopeful — especially as those objectives will be agreed upon in a city still healing from recent terror attacks.

"What greater rejection of those who would tear down our world than marshaling our best efforts to save it," President Obama said in a speech at COP21, referencing the Nov. 13, 2015, attacks in Paris.

Climate change is a big problem. It will take big solutions to solve it.

But between Gates and Obama — and the 100-something other countries that are on board — it certainly looks like we have a fighting chance at keeping our planet green for generations to come.

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.