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Gates, Zuckerberg and Other Tech Titans Team Up to Push Clean Energy

Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and several other of the world’s wealthiest tech and business titans are banding together to fight climate change by investing billions in clean-energy research and technologies.

The Breakthrough Energy Coalition was announced ahead of the opening day Monday of the U.N.-organized climate talks outside Paris. More than 150 heads of state and government were gathering at the summit to try to find common ground on how to slow the rise in global temperatures.

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The coalition has pledged to invest in innovative ways to produce "clean" energy, especially in the developing world, and thereby cut down on climate-warming greenhouse gases. The group of investors will pour money into companies working on clean-energy ideas.

"The renewable technologies we have today, like wind and solar, have made a lot of progress and could be one path to a zero-carbon energy future," Gates said in a blog post. "But given the scale of the challenge, we need to be exploring many different paths — and that means we also need to invent new approaches."

"Our primary goal with the coalition is as much to accelerate progress on clean energy as it is to make a profit," Gates said.

"Solving the clean energy problem is an essential part of building a better world. We won't be able to make meaningful progress on other challenges — like educating or connecting the world — without secure energy and a stable climate," Zuckerberg said in a post on Facebook. "Yet progress towards a sustainable energy system is too slow, and the current system doesn't encourage the kind of innovation that will get us there faster."

In a separate but related initiative called Mission Innovation, 20 countries, including the U.S., have pledged to double what they spend on clean energy research and development over the next five years.

The Breakthrough Energy Coalition hopes to work with governments to more quickly bring to market technologies that provide affordable energy while limiting the impact on the environment.

"Success requires a partnership of increased government research, with a transparent and workable structure to objectively evaluate those projects, and committed private-sector investors willing to support the innovative ideas that come out of the public research pipeline," the coalition said.

In addition to the Microsoft co-founder and the Facebook CEO, other big names on the coalition include Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos,Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma, SoftBank founder and CEO Masayoshi Son and business magnate and philanthropist George Soros.