Climate tech getting a boost but needs to reach all countries

Chief Europe Correspondent
Vijay Vaitheeswaran with The Economist moderates a panel with Jennifer Granholm, U.S. Energy Secretary, John Kerry, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, Larry Fink CEO of BlackRock, and Christoph Schweizer, CEO of Boston Consulting Group at the Breakthrough Energy Summit.

Governments and the private sector in rich countries are stepping up investments in clean energy innovation, but more must be done to ensure both capital and cleantech reach the developing world. 

That was one of the main takeaways in Seattle during the first day of the Breakthrough Energy Summit, where politicians, investors and inventors met to discuss the challenges of quickly reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.

“We have to pursue more potential solutions knowing that individually some of these pieces aren’t going to come together—it’s very tricky,” Bill Gates, the founder of Breakthrough Energy, said referring to the various technologies currently being tested to decarbonize various segments of the economy.

It’s also a matter of fairness, Gates wrote the same day on his personal blog.

“Europe and the United States, which have historically produced the vast majority of CO2 emissions, owe it to the world not only to eliminate our own emissions but to invest aggressively and get Green Premiums down,” he wrote. The green premium, which represents the difference in cost between a product that emits carbon and an alternative that doesn’t.

A reform of how multilateral development banks operate is also crucial to ensure more and climate-targeted money flows towards developing countries, John Kerry, the United States’ special presidential envoy for climate, said during the summit.

Kerry struck a cautious balance of optimism and pessimism, stressing the importance of having more countries commit to measurable decarbonization plans.

“I am convinced we will go to a low-carbon economy,” Kerry said. “What I’m not convinced of enough is that we will do it in time as scientists have told us we have to do it in order to avoid the worst consequences of this crisis.”