University joins clean energy coalition committed to investing in technological solutions to climate challenges

University of California/Courtesy

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The university announced Sunday that it has joined a clean-energy technology investment coalition featured at the United Nations’ annual climate conference in Paris.

The Breakthrough Energy Coalition consists of a group of investors led by Bill Gates and aims to invest in technological solutions to “urgent energy and climate challenges facing the planet,” according to a statement released by the UC Office of the President.

The coalition proposes a model that would incorporate partnerships among governments, research institutions and investors. Among the 28 coalition members from 10 countries, the university is the only institutional investor.

“The University of California is the first university to join the coalition,” said university spokesperson Kate Moser. “This is a testament to the (university)’s leadership in responding to global climate change and also to the strength of the UC’s research across our 10 campuses and three national labs.”

This new partnership functions as a counterpart to another initiative, Mission Innovation, which consists of 19 nations that aim to increase research and development funding for “early-stage clean energy innovation” over the next five years, according to the statement.

Both of these initiatives were announced at the COP21 in Paris, the annual United Nations conference on climate change.

“The formation of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition is an exciting effort to invest in early-stage technology that can be scaled up to address global energy and climate issues,” according to Moser.

“UC leads the way,” said UC Student Association president Kevin Sabo. “We have a huge impact on the world through our research.”

The decision to join the coalition was spurred by the university’s decision to invest more sustainably. Earlier this year, the UC Board of Regents’ chief investment officer adopted a sustainable investing framework to guide its investment decisions, a set of principles that played a part in the university’s September decision to sell its direct holdings in oil and tar sands companies.

In addition to the university’s involvement in the coalition, representatives from the state, such as Gov. Jerry Brown, are also present at the conference, which will run from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.

Because of its progressive policies, the state of California serves as a model for other parts of the world that hope to stem their contributions to global warming, such as reducing carbon emissions, according to Alex Barnum, spokesperson for the California Environmental Protection Agency.

Barnum said the state is an ideal partner for the coalition because of its collaborative nature and its extensive experience addressing climate change issues, such as when the state passed the Global Warming Solutions Act in 2006.

“We already have demonstrated with a number of programs that we’ve been successful in reducing emission and attracting investments,” Barnum said.

Contact Danwei Ma at [email protected].