Invoice Gates pledges $1.5 billion for infrastructure plan’s local weather initiatives

Bill Gates, Co-Chair of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, attends a conversation at the 2019 New Economy Forum in Beijing, China November 21, 2019.

Jason Lee | Reuters

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates on Thursday said his climate investment fund would pledge $1.5 billion for joint projects with the federal government to combat climate change if Congress passes a bipartisan infrastructure plan that funds clean energy technologies.

The Senate’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, which hasn’t yet passed through the House, provides the Department of Energy with $25 billion for projects that demonstrate the viability of clean energy technologies for widespread adoption. The money is part of the bill’s broader investment in programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Gates’ fund, run by his firm Breakthrough Energy, would spend the money over three years on initiatives to lower emissions. The projects would focus on zero emissions plane fuel, long-duration energy storage, green hydrogen and direct air capture.

“If the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act becomes law, this collaboration will not only send us on a more durable path to net zero, but will create both immediate and long-term jobs in communities across the country,” Gates said in a statement.

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While the infrastructure plan appears to have enough bipartisan support to pass through the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has repeatedly stressed she won’t hold a vote on the infrastructure bill until the Senate passes a $3.5 trillion spending bill.

It could take months for Congress to approve both plans.

If the infrastructure plan doesn’t pass, Breakthrough would likely move the funding for larger projects to Europe and Asia, Gates said during an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement that the pledge from Gates demonstrates how the private sector is prepared to “lead the fight to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve a net-zero economy by 2050.” 

“These investments will unlock new technologies to position the U.S. as a global leader of the clean energy economy — creating good-paying jobs for all kinds of workers in all pockets of the country,” Granholm said.

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