Bill Gates’ climate-focused venture capital fund is expanding its mission by adding “climate change adaptation” criteria to its investments and creating an investment fund to help green tech startups build and continue to grow factories. The announcement comes at the end of the Breakthrough Energy Summit hosted by the company this Wednesday, October 19, 2022, in Seattle.
So far, Breakthroug Energy has focused on the “Big Five” by supporting companies that promise to reduce pollution in the energy, transportation, manufacturing, construction and agriculture industries. All of these efforts are considered forms of climate change mitigation strategies. Adaptation to climate change, on the other hand, is about developing tools to increase protection against the dangers of climate change rather than prevent them.
In an interview, Eric Thun, technical manager of the investment committee at Breakthrough Energy Ventures, said it’s becoming increasingly clear that adaptation must play an important role as global emissions continue to rise and global warming continues.
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“Mitigation alone will not allow us to achieve this goal quickly enough. As far as suffering is concerned, this is unacceptable,” he insists, referring to the verdict delivered by John Holdren, a former science adviser to former US President Barack Obama, who believed that we have three options for responding to climate change: mitigation, adaptation and suffering. .
“Thus, we will continue to focus on mitigation while expanding the scope of our activities, including adaptation,” continues Eric Thun.
The company will focus on several areas, including ways to help farmers and communities cope with increasingly frequent or severe droughts. These approaches may include advanced desalination technologies or systems to extract moisture from the air. It will also be about helping crops stay productive when the Earth’s climate gets hotter, wetter or drier. This can potentially be done through indoor growing and genetic modification.
According to Eric Thun, Breakthrough will also look for ways to strengthen the infrastructure of global ports. The latter are facing increasing threats from rising sea levels and increasingly violent storms. Breakthrough’s next investments could be dynamic mooring systems that automatically respond to storm surges, cranes that can operate safely in hotter and harsher conditions, and more reliable vessels.
These new investment sectors will come into play as part of the next breakthrough fund the company is raising, Bill Gates recently explained in an interview with BloomBerg. A statement he repeated at the energy summit this week. However, the company has not yet specified the size of the fund or when it will be completed. To date, Breakthrough has raised two funds worth about $1 billion.
The fund, dubbed “Select”, will primarily provide money for “wide-ranging follow-up” purposes to enable companies to reach the next level by hosting demonstrations of their technologies. These projects are intended to test and optimize technologies on a larger scale, but not yet on a commercial scale. Eric Thun explained that the funds will primarily, but not exclusively, go to companies in Breakthrough’s current portfolio.
Temasek, a Singapore-based holding company that has invested in several other startups in the portfolio, will be one of the participants in the new fund. Breakthrough has not yet announced the size of this fund or disclosed the names of other investors.
Article by James Temple, translated from English by Cozy Patakia.
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