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Breakthrough Energy and MI: Partners in delivering our net-zero future

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Contributed by Breakthrough Energy

About a dozen pages into his new book “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster,” Bill Gates touts the achievements of Mission Innovation since it was launched in 2015 at the Paris climate conference. The initiative “has unlocked $4.6 billion a year in new money for clean energy research, an increase of more than 50 percent in just a handful of years,” he writes.

Despite this progress – and other successful efforts to boost climate innovation funding – Gates is clear that to eliminate the 51 billion tons of greenhouse gases the world emits annually, much more needs to be done. For its own part, Mission Innovation has acknowledged the current pace and scale of innovation is inadequate to effectively address climate change.

With so much at stake, and with such a difficult task ahead, close collaboration is critical. That’s why Breakthrough Energy – the network of philanthropic programs, investment vehicles, and policy advocacy efforts Gates established to spur climate innovation – is deepening its partnership with Mission Innovation.

Breakthrough Energy is one of six major Mission Innovation collaborators. Launched alongside each other at COP 21, Breakthrough Energy and MI have since their inception been partners for progress in climate- and energy-related innovation.

Breakthrough Energy works with researchers and scientists, policymakers, investors, entrepreneurs, business leaders and activists to accelerate the clean energy transition and transformation of the global economy. It has created first-of-its-kind partnerships with Canada and the European Union that connect government leaders with corporations and investors, driving investments to scale innovations and decarbonize economies. And it partners with leading voices to help make the case for policies that can help get the world to net-zero emissions by 2050.

MI’s primary objectives are in many ways similar. MI seeks substantial increases in public sector clean energy R&D investments, more international collaboration, an increase in private sector engagement and investment, and a higher profile for the transformational potential of innovation in the energy sector.

Breakthrough Energy’s own strategy to boost innovation is focused on four areas. Breakthrough Energy is developing solutions, building markets, developing innovative public and private sector policies, and forging partnerships. What does this look like in action? Here are two Breakthrough Energy programs MI countries can turn to for support:

First, Breakthrough Energy Catalyst. To get to net zero, promising clean technologies must rapidly get to scale, yet too often funding gaps prevent the deployment they need. Breakthrough Energy is helping fill those gaps. This program will invest in commercial-stage demonstration projects and bring together the right stakeholders – including developers, buyers, and financiers – to increase the availability of low-carbon products and reduce the “Green Premium” Gates discusses in his book.

Second, Breakthrough Energy Fellows. Every year Breakthrough Energy Fellows will fund a cohort of the world’s most innovative researchers and scientists working on critical new clean technologies – connecting them to a network of entrepreneurs, executives, and industry leaders, and guiding their discoveries to commercial pathways.

This is just the beginning for Breakthrough Energy – and for its partnership with MI as it prepares to launch Mission Innovation 2.0.

Gates’ book is crystal clear about the challenges we face. But it also strikes an optimistic tone. As Mission Innovation shifts toward 2.0, it does so alongside Breakthrough Energy, an organization equally committed to scaling up the climate innovations the world urgently needs.

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