The announcement of the plan coincides with the start of an international climate conference in Paris
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PARIS—President Barack Obama and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates will launch a multi-billion-dollar initiative Monday to accelerate clean-energy research and development as part of a global effort to fight climate change.
The announcement is timed to provide a jolt of momentum as world leaders gather in Paris for the start of a two-week summit focused on forging an international agreement to cut greenhouse-gas emissions. The president and Mr. Gates will join with other heads of state and investors to detail complementary public and private commitments to clean-energy innovation.
The goal, Obama administration officials said, is to speed the pace of progress on new technologies that will help curb emissions and limit the rise of global temperatures.
Brian Deese, a senior White House adviser who specializes in climate issues, said the initiative “should help to send a strong signal that the world is committed to helping to try to mobilize the resources necessary to ensure that countries around the world can deploy clean energy solutions in cost-effective ways.”
The 20 countries that have signed on to Mission Innovation will pledge to double their investments in clean-energy research and development during the next five years. The U.S. now spends more than $5 billion annually, administration officials said.
The participating countries, which represent about 75% of global carbon-dioxide emissions from the electricity sector, include China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and France. The diversity of the countries’ energy interests should help ensure a range of new technologies is developed, administration officials said.
In the U.S., winning approval from the Republican-controlled Congress for additional clean-energy funds could prove to be a challenge. GOP lawmakers have been fierce opponents of Mr. Obama’s climate agenda, which they say will kill jobs and drive up electricity prices.
Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz expressed confidence the initiative would attract bipartisan support, saying innovation efforts have had broad backing in the past.
As the countries kick off the effort, Mr. Gates simultaneously will launch the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, a private-sector push aimed at bringing early-stage energy programs into the marketplace, administration officials said.
Earlier this year, Mr. Gates committed to invest $1 billion in clean-energy technology during the next five years, saying that mitigating climate change would also help to fight poverty.
“I think this issue is especially important because, of all the people who will be affected by climate change, those in poor countries will suffer the most,” Mr. Gates wrote this summer. “It would be a terrible injustice to let climate change undo any of the past half-century’s progress against poverty and disease—and doubly unfair because the people who will be hurt the most are the ones doing the least to cause the problem.”
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