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Microsoft's Gates to start multi-billion-dollar clean tech initiative

[WASHINGTON] Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates will launch a multi-billion-dollar clean energy research and development initiative on Monday, the opening day of the UN climate change summit in Paris, GreenWire reported on Friday.

Mr Gates and a group of developing and developed countries will agree to double their research and development budgets to boost clean energy deployment and work collaboratively, according to GreenWire, an energy and climate trade publication, citing government and business officials familiar with the agreement.

Access to clean energy technology will play a key role in a global agreement to combat climate change. More than 190 countries will negotiate a new pact in Paris from Nov 30 to Dec 11.

Mr Gates will join Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande to announce Initiative Cleantech at a side event on the opening day of the two-week climate summit, according to a summit agenda released by the French government Friday.

For India, the world's third largest greenhouse gas emitter, access to clean energy technology is at the core of its national strategy to combat climate change.

India has argued that developed countries need to help poorer countries gain access to renewable energy or zero emission technologies by helping reduce incremental costs and removing barriers such as intellectual property rights.

On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September, Gates attended a bilateral meeting focused on climate change between Hollande and Modi. "With people like him (Gates) getting involved, there is a real possibility of there being private-sector partnerships on the technology side," a Modi spokesman said after the Sept. 29 meeting.

Gates has pledged US$2 billion of his personal wealth over the next five years to "bend the curve" on climate change, he said this summer.

In a blog post in July, Mr Gates said more breakthrough technologies are needed to combat climate change and that current technologies can only reduce greenhouse gas emissions at a "beyond astronomical" cost.

He said accelerating government funding for clean energy research and development is crucial to attracting private investment to the field.