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Billionaires will solve climate change, not Extinction Rebellion

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Environmental movement Extinction Rebellion won’t solve climate change. Instead, Billionaires will. Here’s why. 

UK-based Extinction Rebellion wants the world to commit to a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025. Effectively that means no use of fossil fuels in five years. It means rolling back economic growth and questioning the capitalist fundamentals of much of the world economy. Radical stuff. 

If Extinction Rebellion proves right, well billionaires like Elon Musk even have the answer to this – leave Earth and colonize other planets

Extinction Rebellion says these drastic measures are necessary to deal with the catastrophic consequences of ignoring climate change for such a long time. And if we don’t follow their thinking, we risk a world not fit for habitation. All bets are off, even for billionaires. 

Maybe they’re right, but common sense says no government is going to commit to such drastic cutbacks on economic growth to meet the 2025 target. 

Governments, on the whole, will push carbon-free targets out further into the future. In the meantime, they will concentration on short-term priorities, like promoting economic and job growth. That’s what gets them reelected. 

In the meantime, it will be up to the very rich to solve climate change. But, of course, no government, nor many individuals are going to support them visibly – billionaires aren’t much in fashion these days. Just ask US presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren and the UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. 

But all the evidence shows the very rich will solve climate change, regardless whether they get our support, or not. They will do it through their investments, particularly in the venture world. 

Venture investing is at the sharp end of capitalism. The rewards are high, but so are the risks. That’s a big reason why the venture world is pretty much the preserve of the very rich when it comes to investing. For the most part, institutions like pension funds steer clear – it’s too risky for them, and their trustees are mostly risk-averse. 

Yes, there are many institutions backing venture, names like Accel Partners, Sequoia Capital, and Y Combinator, are some of the biggest funders of startups and venture-based businesses. But they’re mostly backed by very rich limited partners (outside investors), and, of course, their own, also very rich, general partners. 

But increasingly, as well documented by Family Capital, the very rich back venture directly themselves through their own investment offices. So whether they do it indirectly, through funds backed by the likes of Sequoia, or directly through their investment offices, the ecosystem of venture investing is an ecosystem of the very rich. 

OK, a lot of this wealthy persons’ investing goes into businesses that aren’t doing much to help alleviate climate change, like biotech. In fact, there’s a good argument to say biotech increases greenhouse emissions. Successful biotech outcomes mean we will live longer. A 100-year-old-plus individual, particularly a very rich individual, will generate more greenhouse emissions, than a very rich person who lives to 80. Just think of all those extra flights in their private jets. 

But a lot of venture investing, particularly by the investment offices of the very rich, is going into startups and businesses that will help to solve climate change. 

Family Capital has documented this on numerous occasions, particularly in the area of clean and plant-based meat/fish substitutes. Clean meat and its equivalents will help to bring down carbon emissions significantly.

Billionaires are also directly addressing the problem with climate change. Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures is a group of some of the wealthiest people in the world committed to tackling global warming.  

Even more significant are the billionaires backing the development of fusion energy. Boston-based Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS), is at the forefront of developing the cleanest and safest energy known – nuclear fusion. When it becomes viable, nuclear fusion will make zero carbon emission economies completely viable. We won’t have to rely on things like solar and wing-based energy to cut our carbon emissions.  

The company’s CEO, Bob Mumgaard, predicts CFS will have a working power plant in time to combat climate change. “We think we have the science, speed and scale to put carbon-free fusion power on the grid in 15 years,” he said last year. 

The private investment offices backing CFS are Schooner Capital, a venture group/private investment office of the venture capitalist Vin Ryan, and Moore Strategic Ventures, a private investment group set up by hedge fund billionaire Louis Bacon. 

If all these efforts fail, which is doubtful, and Extinction Rebellion proves right, well billionaires even have the answer to this – leave Earth and colonize other planets. Billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX is at the forefront of these efforts. 

It’s a pity most public opinion scorn billionaires because it just might be through their efforts we will deal effectively with climate change. Extinction Rebellion will be the last group to acknowledge this…

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