Gates offers $1.5 bn in climate help if US takes legislative action
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates on Thursday said his climate fund would pour $1.5 billion into projects with the United States if the government enacts a program to cut carbon emissions currently working its way through Congress.
A $1.2 trillion infrastructure package passed by the US Senate this week would funnel billions of dollars to the Department of Energy for projects battling climate change.
If the infrastructure package 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 published by CNBC.
By funding work on roads, bridges and ports, as well as clean water and high-speed internet, US President Joe Biden said the bill—which still needs House approval—would create thousands of high-paying jobs for people without college degrees.
"This historic investment in infrastructure is what I believe you, the American people, want," Biden said in a White House address.
Needing just a simple majority, the package passed by 69 votes to 30 with backing from a third of Republican Senators.
The measure now faces a make-or-break vote in the House of Representatives in coming weeks, where its future is less certain as divisions have sprung up in the Democratic majority.
The ambitious plan provides for $550 billion in new federal spending on transport infrastructure, and also for public transit, broadband internet and clean water, as well as electric charging stations and other measures to fight climate change.
A Gates fund run by his Breakthrough Energy company would spend the $1.5 billion over the course of three years with the goal of eliminating greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change, according to US media reports.
Projects could include airplanes that don't spew pollution and technology for capturing carbon from the air.
"Critical for all these climate technologies is to get the costs down and to be able to scale them up to a pretty gigantic level," Gates was quoted as telling the Wall Street Journal.
"You'll never get that scale up unless the government's coming in with the right policies, and the right policy is exactly what's in that infrastructure bill."
© 2021 AFP