To date, Breakthrough has focused on “Five great challenges,” Support companies that promise to reduce climate pollution in electricity, transportation, manufacturing, buildings, and agriculture. All of these efforts are seen as forms of climate mitigation. Climate adaptation refers to developing ways to increase protections against the dangers of climate change, rather than prevent it.
In an interview, Eric Toone, chief technical officer of investment committee Breakthrough Energy Ventures, said it is increasingly clear that adaptation will need to play an important role as global emissions continue to rise and The planet continues to warm.
“Relief is not going to get us there fast enough and suffering is unacceptable,” he said, referring to the line of words. John HoldrenFormer scientific adviser to President Barack Obama, that we have three choices about how we respond to climate change: mitigate, adapt and endure.
“So while our focus will continue to be on mitigation, we will expand our reach to include adaptation,” Toone said.
The company will focus on several areas, including ways to help farmers and communities cope with increasingly common or severe droughts; Such approaches may include advanced desalination technology or systems pull moisture out of the air. Another measure would include helping crops stay productive as the world gets hotter, wetter or drier, likely through indoor farming and genetic modification.
Toone said Breakthrough will also seek to strengthen the infrastructure of global ports, which are facing increasing threats from rising sea levels and increasingly powerful storms. Investment opportunities there could include dynamic mooring systems that automatically respond to storm surges, cranes that can operate safely in hotter and harsher conditions, and ships that can higher roughness.
These new areas of investment will come into effect under Breakthrough Energy’s upcoming fund, which the company is in the process of raising capital, Gates told Bloomberg recently and was reaffirmed at Tuesday’s energy event. The company has yet to announce its size or when it will be finalized. To date, Breakthrough has raised two funds worth approximately $1 billion.
The separate post-stage fund, called Select, will primarily provide “large-scale, next-generation” funds to enable companies to move forward with demonstration projects. They are built to test and optimize technology on a larger scale, although not commercial technology yet. Toone said the funding will be primarily, but not exclusively, for Breakthrough’s existing portfolio companies.
Temasek, a Singaporean parent company that has invested in several of the company’s other portfolio startups, will be a contributor to the new fund. Breakthrough has yet to announce the size of that fund or disclose additional investors.