With Planet Earth facing its worst ever ecological catastrophe, some of the world’s super-billionaires led by Microsoft founder Bill Gates have come forward to invest hundreds of billions of dollars to fight climate change and discover or develop renewable sources of clean energy.
The world’s big companies and multi-millionaires or billionaires had earlier been content with corporate social responsibility which social justice analysts have described as more or less crumbs-from-the-table cases. They make hundreds of millions -- mainly by wheeler-dealer plunder or exploiting workers -- and soothe their conscience by throwing the crumbs to the impoverished people. Having hopefully realized that such selfish greedy and wicked capitalism often throws them into some hellfires, the super-billionaires are now coming forward to help the world make a 180 degrees turn from its path of self-destruction.
According to the website Worth, a group of the world’s billionaires have focussed their philanthropy on environmental issues -- climate change, renewable energy, the creation of green cities and species conservation.They include Sir Richard Branson, the Billionaire CEO of the Virgin Group. He devotes much of his time to his philanthropic arm, Virgin Unite, which includes an initiative dedicated to fighting Co2 emissions. Last year Sir Branson announced the Green Capital Global Challenge -- a one year, 10-city programme to increase energy efficiency in the built environment. Sir Branson pledged all profits from Virgin Transportation for the next 10 years to developing green energy. In 2007 he launched the Virgin Green Fund to support renewable energy investments, and announced his USD $25 million prize for any technology that can safely remove carbon from the atmosphere.
Also involved is Ted Turner. The erstwhile media mogul first displayed his passion for environmental philanthropy with the establishment of his organization committed to maintaining the planet’s natural resources. Mr. Turner has set apart funds to reduce the global threat from nuclear chemical and biological weapons launched the Turner Endangered Species Fund to promote biodiversity and conservation and created the Captain Planet Foundation which includes the hit TBS show Captain Planet to encourage children to become environmental stewards.
The next is George Soros. Since the ‘70s Mr. Soros, the Hungarian-born hedge fund manager has donated more than $7 billion to various philanthropic endeavours, and in recent years his attention has turned to environmentalism. In 2009, Mr. Soros announced the foundation of his new global climate watchdog group, the Climate Policy Initiative, which he will fund to the tune of $100 million over the next 10 years. Next is Jeff Skoll. The filmmaker founded Participant Media, which produces socially conscious films and documentaries, often paired with social actions to encourage audiences to participate and make a difference. His credits include former US vice President Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. Mr. Skoll has also handed out grants to 72 social entrepreneurs. Headquartered in Silicon Valley, the Skoll Foundation seeks to create a sustainable future through social entrepreneurship, with particular emphasis on climate change, water scarcity, pandemics and nuclear proliferation.
On the other side of the world, we have Zhengrong Shi. He earned his PHD in Australia at the University of New South Wales School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering. Mr. Shi returned to China in 2001 to set up Suntech Power, the largest manufacturer of photovoltaic cells for solar technology in the world. One of the richest men in China, Mr. Shi has donated considerable funds for renewable energy research to his Alma mater. He also gifted a Suntech solar array to the Sydney Theatre Company’s new Wharf Theatre. Using advanced crystalline silicon solar technologies, the project recently broke the world record for the highest conversion efficiency.
The initiator of the mission is Bill Gates. His Philanthropic focus can be measured by the kinds of insects he releases at the annual TED conference. In 2014, it was mosquitoes to raise awareness about malaria or dengue. Last year, fireflies to demonstrate the need for energy miracles to combat climate change. Mr. Gates is officially switching gears from vaccines and seeds to energy and climate to realize his goal of a fossil-fuel-free 2050. We hope other corporate giants and company owners would also join this battle to save Planet Earth, so that world governments also would be encouraged to go beyond populist short-term policies and experience ecological conversion.