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Breakthrough Energy CoalitionParis hosted the global climate conference with heads of government and businesses in attendance. This was the 21st conference of this kind, and many maintain that it was the most productive thanks to Bill Gates’s Breakthrough Energy Coalition.

At the climate event, known as COP-21, Gates announced his plan to help address climate change. It is a collection of some of the most influential entrepreneurs, and it is known as the Breakthrough Energy Coalition.

The group includes well-known business leaders such as Richard Branson, Jack Ma and Jeff Bezos.

The coalition, led by Gates, pledges to work in tandem with national governments to increase funding for clean energy research. They will also invest in risky clean energy projects that have a long return on investment but a high potential for success.

Many of the ideas coming from existing clean energy research and development are too insecure for traditional investors. They do not want to put money into an idea that might never make it to the market. This difficult journey from innovative idea to commercial product is known as the “valley of death,” and Gates’s coalition plans to bridge it.

The Breakthrough Energy Coalition will invest in those risky ideas and be patient with the returns. Gates cites flow batteries and solar paint as two such existing products that need private sector investment. If successful, solar paint could transform any surface into a solar panel.

A crucial component of this plan is national governments. The research and development for clean energy technology must start with the government because only they have the mandate and resources to do so. Business alone cannot lead the charge.

Furthermore, government-funded programs have successfully created whole new industries that from space, defense and medical research. Gates’s coalition believes governments are key to creating the clean energy industries of the future.

In association with Gates’ announcement, President Obama and leaders around the world pledged to increase public-sector spending for research and development in clean energy. This pledge, in combination with Gates’, will constitute the biggest investment in clean energy in history.

The public sector initiative is known as Mission Innovation, including 20 nations. Each participating country agrees to double its existing funding for clean energy technology within the next five years.

This pledge will increase the budget of the 20 nations to $20 billion for clean energy. These new funds will go to research and development, and the creation of new ideas and technologies.

Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Coalition will then use their business acumen to wisely invest in technology that has the greatest potential. With patient and consistent investment, the products will bypass the “valley of death.”

These historic investments from government and businesses reflect the urgency for action. Both realize the impact climate change can have on their respect areas. It can cause unrest and war for governments, and a loss of profits for businesses.

The developing world, though, has the most to lose. Man-made climate change is primarily caused by industrialization from the developed world, but affects the developed world in a greater magnitude. This harsh irony will be reduced with the teaming up of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition and Mission Innovations.

Clean energy will allow the developing world to grow and avoid the ravages of climate change. Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Coalition will not only address climate change, but also fight poverty.

Andrew Wildes

Sources: Breakthrough Energy Coalition, Mashable, The Guardian
Photo: Here & Now

anti-poverty_campaignDropping oil prices and tightening budgets across nations in the Gulf are making it difficult to raise money for charity causes. But Bill Gates, with a growing culture of philanthropy in the region, is hoping to attract wealthy regional donors with the Anti-Poverty Campaign.

By visiting the region, Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft and a well-known philanthropist, is actively seeking donations toward his foundation’s $2.5 billion ‘Lives and Livelihood Fund.’ The fund is philanthropy which aims to reduce poverty and disease across 30 countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

The Lives and Livelihood Fund is a joint project with the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB). Launched in June, the IDB and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation formally announced the $500 million grant facility.

Through the innovative facility, IDB, the Gates Foundation and potential future donors will support over five years of poverty-focused programs worth $2.5 billion in primary healthcare, disease control, smallholder agriculture and basic rural infrastructure in IDB member countries, with a special focus on low-income countries.

At the launch, Gates appealed to donors saying, “we now have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve the quality of life for each of the nearly 2 billion people living in the bank’s member countries. It is an honor to join you in this historic effort.”

IDB has committed $2 billion in loans financing the Gates Foundation if they are able to raise $500 million in donations (of which the Gates foundation has pledged $100 million). Donations, for the remaining difference, are expected to be drawn from wealthy Gulf nations.

Speaking in the United Arab Emirates during an interview with Reuters, Gates said, “Certainly the price of oil means that these countries are having to prioritize both domestic and international things they do. It would be easier if oil was $100 a barrel.”

Oil prices have fallen 60 percent since mid-2014, and the benchmark Brent crude was trading around $42.80 in December 2015.

Despite this, “Philanthropy is growing here and every time I come to the region I get a chance to sit and talk with people who are considering giving and I hear a lot of enthusiasm,” Gates said.

According to Gates, the anti-poverty campaign has several key partners in the region. Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is one such partner.

Back in July, the prince said he would gradually donate his entire $32 billion fortune to charities that promote health, disease eradication, disaster relief and women’s rights.

Days later, United Arab Emirates businessman Abdullah Ahmad al-Ghurair gave more than $1 billion, a third of his business empire, to a foundation supporting education in the Arab world.

Large-scale donations like these could mark a new trend among the Gulf’s wealthiest. The changes that could come as a result of their generosity are promising, to say the least.

Kara Buckley

Sources: Business Insider, ISDB
Photo: Quotes Gram

corporate_philanthropy

Corporations have a variety of ways to contribute to poverty relief. Methods include matching employee donations, promoting employee volunteerism, providing donations in kind and simply providing grants to or partnering with charitable organizations. Some even partner with governmental institutions such as the United States Agency for International Development in hybrid public/private aid ventures.

Corporations disperse funds to a plethora of good causes, but some have a particular focus on poverty reduction, development and public health initiatives internationally. Among the most generous corporations that support poverty-reduction programs are Chevron, Johnson and Johnson, Microsoft, JP Morgan Chase and General Electric.

In 2013, Chevron donated $274.3 million, or 0.6% of its pretax profits to charitable organizations. The company has an employee donation matching program that covers up to $10,000 per year and $3,000 for retirees. Being a highly globalized corporation, Chevron sponsors a variety of international development programs, such as the Niger Delta Partnership Initiative Foundation, which provides livelihood training to residents of the Niger Delta. Last year, Chevron pledged an additional $40 million to the program.

Johnson and Johnson donated $966.3 million in 2012 in cash and goods, a full 7% of its profits that year. Johnson and Johnson has a particularly robust corporate philanthropy program, doubling employee donations to eligible nonprofits. They also have a particular focus on global health issues. For example, the company partnered with the United Nations, the World Bank and the World Health Organization to support the U.N.’s Health Four+ Initiative, providing health care and obstetric training to populations in low-resource settings in Tanzania and Ethiopia.

While Microsoft’s philanthropic activities are often associated with the co-founder Bill Gates’ Foundation, the company itself has a very generous donor program that provided $948.6 million worth of in-kind donations and $112.2 million in cash donations in 2014. Microsoft’s corporate philanthropy does not have a particular focus on poverty reduction, however, they provide technology and software to about 86,000 nonprofit organizations globally.

JP Morgan Chase donates to several different kinds of philanthropic causes, contributing $210.9 million in 2013. On top of their donations, the company also provides capital for impact investment funds, supporting a wide variety of international economic development ventures. The company partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to create one such project, the Global Health Investment Fund, which invests in the development of medical technologies that target diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis, which disproportionately affect the developing world. Another fund that JP Morgan Chase supports is the African Agricultural Capital Fund, which invests in agribusiness in East Africa, targeting small holder farms and rural economies.

General Electric is particularly committed to corporate philanthropy, having been the first company to introduce an employee donation matching program, which now supports up to a generous $50,000 per year. In 2013, the $154.8 million that GE donated went to initiatives such as its Developing Health Globally Program, which sponsors medical training and technological assistance in Rwanda, Ghana, Uganda, Myanmar and Indonesia.

Most large corporations have fairly long-standing traditions of giving back to their communities and supporting international development through corporate philanthropy programs. Corporations typically donate anywhere from 1% to 5% of their annual profits to such programs, sometimes even partnering with government agencies such as the United Stated Agency for International Development. However, it is worth noting that state solutions to poverty reduction continue to have the greatest funding potential. For example, Official Development Assistance in the United States alone amounted to about $30 billion in 2013, or 0.18% of the budget, many billions of dollars more than the top 10 corporate donors combined that year. While corporate donations are essential to the fight against poverty, official state aid could, if properly harnessed, represent the greatest solution to poverty worldwide.

– Derek Marion

Sources: Double the Donation, Chevron, Johnson and Johnson, Microsoft, JP Morgan Chase, GE, OECD
Photo: Ventures