Bill Gates and the Quest for Sustainable Energy, Cont'd

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

The Microsoft tycoon and humanitarian, timed with the start of the Paris Climate Conference, just released details of his big push for clean energy (discussed in the above interview last month with James Bennet):

[Bll Gates] is spearheading something called the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, a group of 28 private investors who will commit various amounts of their respective fortunes to clean energy ventures, provided the governments follow through on their promises. [...] Gates’ leadership here is significant. He and his wife, Melinda Gates, have built the world’s largest private foundation, and they’ve dedicated their efforts in developing countries to fighting poverty and disease. Perhaps belatedly, Gates appears to be recognizing that climate change could undo all of that good work.

The good news is that once Gates tackles a problem in earnest, he doesn’t just throw money at it. He uses money as a lever to bring about broader changes. That appears to be the case here, too. An Obama adviser told Mashable’s Andrew Freedman that Gates was the “intellectual architect” of the private-sector effort on clean energy. On Monday, he explained his thinking in a paper called “Energy Innovation: Why We Need It and How to Get It” (PDF).

Read more about his commitment to moving the world beyond fossil fuels in our November 2015 issue.