Better known for its energy-oriented investments, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, founded by Bill Gates is expanding its scope of investments, establishing a later-stage fund to help clean-tech startups begin building plants and scaling up their technologies. During the company’s breakthrough energy summit, the company’s directors mentioned the desire to focus on climate adaptation rather than mitigation. In an interview with MIT Technology Review, Eric Toone, technical lead for Breakthrough Energy Ventures’ investment committee, said it’s increasingly clear that adaptation will need to play a major role as global emissions continue to rise and the planet continues to warm.
Climate mitigation means making the impacts of climate change less severe by preventing or reducing the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere such as relying on greener energies whereas Adaptation means anticipating the adverse effects of climate change and taking appropriate action to prevent or minimize the damage they can cause, or taking advantage of opportunities that may arise.
Toone argues that Mitigation won’t help the world get to net-zero emissions fast enough and will be at the price of suffering.
The firm will focus on several areas, including ways to help farmers and communities grapple with increasingly common or severe droughts; such approaches could include advanced desalination technology or systems that pull moisture out of the air. Another will include helping crops remain productive as the world becomes hotter, wetter, or drier, potentially through indoor farming and genetic alteration.
This move follows a recent announcement made by the Gates Foundation with the Qatar Investment Authority to jointly invest up to USD 200 million over the next two years to help prepare farmers in developing countries to adapt to climate change. The partnership focuses on introducing climate-adaptive farming methods (such as indoor farming) and technology to communities that depend on agriculture for both food and income, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa, said Mark Suzman, chief executive officer of the Gates Foundation.
Image: Bill Gates