#COP26: EU Commission and Bill Gates unite to fast-track green innovation


At the United Nations COP26 summit in Glasgow, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Bill Gates, the Founder of Breakthrough Energy, together with European Investment Bank President Werner Hoyer, have entered a partnership to boost investments in critical climate technologies.

The EU-Catalyst partnership will work to mobilise up to €820 million ($1 billion) between 2022-2026 to accelerate the deployment and rapid commercialisation of innovative technologies that will help deliver European Green Deal ambitions and the EU’s 2030 climate targets.

Investments will target technologies with a recognised potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but which are currently too expensive to get to scale and compete with fossil fuel-based technologies.

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It will bring together the public and private sectors to invest in large-scale demonstration projects within the fields of clean hydrogen, sustainable aviation fuels, direct air capture, and long-duration energy storage.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said: “The climate challenge requires us to invest in high-risk innovations and to eliminate the ‘green premium’ involved in commercialising new technologies.

“I cannot wait to see the technologies coming to the market. The EU-Catalyst partnership is another step on the way to making Europe the first climate-neutral and climate innovation continent. I look to Member States, industry and others to join the climate innovation race.”

Both the European Investment Bank (using Commission resources) and Breakthrough Energy Catalyst will provide equivalent amounts of grants and financial investments in the projects.

Furthermore, Breakthrough Energy Catalyst will mobilise partners to invest in projects and/or purchase the resulting green products.

Bill Gates, Founder of Breakthrough Energy, said: “Reaching net-zero will be one of the hardest things humanity has ever done. It will require new technologies, new policies, and new partnerships between the private and public sector at a scale we have never seen before.

“This partnership with the European Commission and European Investment Bank will help accelerate the widespread adoption of climate solutions, which will build clean industries, and create job opportunities throughout Europe for generations to come.”

By supporting these technologies in the demonstration phase, the EU-Catalyst partnership will reduce their costs to a level that is eventually competitive with fossil-fuel-based options.

Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank, said: “The European Investment Bank has a strong track record of financing early-stage technologies, helping scale them up to become more affordable. Today we are using this expertise to reach the EU’s ambitious climate targets. I am delighted that we can announce today a new partnership with the European Commission and Breakthrough Energy Catalyst to support the green solutions of tomorrow and build a green future for all of us.”

EU funding for the partnership will be drawn from Horizon Europe and the Innovation Fund and will be managed under InvestEU.

The first projects are expected to be selected in 2022.