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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.

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.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

I have plenty of space.

This article originally appeared on 04.09.16


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