The United States and 18 other nations will pledge Monday to double their investment in renewable energy technology by 2020, joining a separate private sector effort led by Bill Gates that aims to help catalyze a major international climate agreement at a United Nations climate summit here.
President Obama will join French President Francois Hollande to announce the so-called Mission Innovation initiative, which the White House says will be a critical step toward limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius.
According to the White House, the participating nations – which will include major carbon emitters like the United States as well as China and India -- currently invest $10 billion in research and development for new technologies. The U.S. accounts for half of that sum through various programs across the government, many centered at the Department of Energy.
The new financial commitment will be supplemented by an initiative led by Gates called the Breakthrough Energy Coalition that aims to commit the private sector to help spread clean energy technologies, particularly through the developing world.
The private sector coalition includes major tech industry figures like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Amazon’s Jeffrey Bezos, as well as former California gubernatorial hopeful Meg Whitman, now chair of Hewlett Packard, and Democratic donor and environmental activist Tom Steyer.
“I think there is a universal recognition that we need to do more to ensure that we are investing in clean energy technology so that we can continue to drive the type of innovation that is really going to drive down costs to make these technologies deployable across the developing world,” White House senior advisor Brian Deese told reporters Sunday in previewing the proposal.
“This announcement, both in terms of its scale in terms of the magnitude of the R&D that will be increased by the public sector as a result of this effort and the commitment that’s being demonstrated by the Breakthrough Energy Coalition of their willingness to deploy private capital, should send a very strong signal.”
UC President Janet Napolitano said the involvement of the university system, which includes three national energy labs, would include working with partner countries to share approaches to developing research for private sector investment.
“As a public research institution we take the imperative to solve global climate change very seriously,” Napolitano said in a statement.
Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said there would be “potentially multiple mechanisms” for coming up with the new funding as part of what he said would “be obviously a complex discussion with Congress,” starting with the 2017 fiscal year budget.