Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates have launched a new group that will help mobilise investment in transformative energy solutions and compensate for the insufficient global funding for tackling climate change.

The Breakthrough Energy Coalition (BEC), a multibillion-dollar initiative based on investment in clean energy start-ups, was announced during the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21) last week.

The Coalition has already been joined by 25 other entrepreneurs, including Virgin’s Richard Branson and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.

Zuckerberg announced both his and wife Priscilla Chan’s partnership with Gates on Facebook over the weekend.

“Solving the clean energy problem is an essential part of building a better world,” he said. “The Breakthrough Energy Coalition will invest in ideas that have the potential to transform the way we all produce and consume energy.”

The group’s members have committed to using their combined wealth, totalling hundreds of billions of dollars, to invest in early-stage clean energy companies, stating that the foundation of the Coalition “must be large funding commitments for basic and applied research.”

The BEC was formed in conjunction with the launch of the Mission Innovation initiative, which was also announced at the COP21 conference this week.

The initiative aims to “reinvigorate and accelerate global clean energy innovation” and has been joined by 20 countries committed to doubling their clean energy research funding over the next five years.

However, BEC co-founder Bill Gates says that the group’s formation is based on the knowledge that research on clean energy alternatives is not enough.

“We need the basic research, but we have to pair that with people who are willing to fund high-risk, breakthrough energy companies,” said Gates.

“That formula will accelerate the innovation at the research level, accelerate the risk-taking, and that’s what gives us a chance of having a solution.”

According to the Frankfurt School’s Collaborating Centre for Climate and Sustainable Energy Finance, international investment in clean energy increased to $270bn in 2014 after a three-year investment lull.

Despite this increase, Gates argues that there is still much work to be done outside of research to effectively reduce the global impact of climate change.

“To limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius—essentially the least bad option—the world’s biggest carbon emitters need to reduce emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, and all countries need to essentially eliminate them by the end of the century.”

Zuckerberg echoed this sentiment in his Facebook announcement of the BEC, saying, “Progress towards a sustainable energy system is too slow, and the current system doesn't encourage the kind of innovation that will get us there faster.”

Founder of LinkedIn and member of the BEC, Reid Hoffman, also emphasised the importance of private-sector investments in furthering clean energy initiatives.

“Making the right investments in the right innovations now is essential to solving this energy challenge for current and future generations across the planet.”

The Coalition has not yet put an exact dollar amount on the level of investment, stating that they “don’t know where the best ideas will come from to transition the world to a near zero-emissions energy future.”

The group says it will “invest across a number of sectors” including electricity generation and storage, agriculture, transportation and industrial use.

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