Soros to Invest $1 Billion in Clean
Energy, Form Advisory Group
Oct 12, 2009 - Katherine Burton and
Jim Efstathious, Jr - First Enercast Financial
Billionaire George Soros, looking to address the
"political problem" of climate change, said
he will invest $1 billion in clean-energy technology
and donate $100 million to an environmental advisory
group to aid policymakers.
Soros, the founder of hedge fund Soros Fund Management
LLC, announced the investment in Copenhagen on Oct.
10 at a meeting on climate change sponsored by Project
Syndicate. The group is an international association
made up of 430 newspapers from 150 countries.
"I want to apply rather stringent criteria
to the investments," said Soros in an e-mailed
message. "They should be profitable but should
also actually make a contribution to solving the problem."
Soros's announcement comes two months before 190
nations will gather in the Danish capital for a final
round of negotiations on a new climate treaty that
includes provisions to finance clean- energy projects
in developing nations. Talks last week in Bangkok
were marked by a dispute between richer and poorer
nations over whether to renew or abandon the Kyoto
Protocol, the only existing global agreement to reduce
carbon dioxide, which is blamed for global warming.
Soros, whose own wealth accounts for much of the
approximately $24 billion his New York-based firm
oversees, didn't provide any details in his speech
on the type or scope of investments he might make.
Michael Vachon, his spokesman, wasn't available to
comment on his specific plans.
Soros, 79, also will establish the Climate Policy
Initiative, a San Francisco-based organization to
which he will donate $10 million a year for 10 years.
"It will be part advisory service, part policy
developer and part watchdog," said Thomas Heller,
who is heading the initiative. Heller is a professor
at Stanford University Law School in Stanford, California,
whose expertise is in energy law and regulation and
Its goal is to look after the public interest as
policies and programs are created to address climate
change. The group will work in the U.S., Europe, China,
India and Brazil, he said. "The problem of global
warming is primarily a political problem at this point,"
Soros said. "The science is beyond dispute, but
how do we achieve the objectives we all know are necessary?
That is a political problem."
The organization will address subjects such as carbon-
Soros has said he prefers a greenhouse-gas tax because
carbon emission-trading systems, which are used in
Europe, can be manipulated by investors.
Some U.S. legislators, energy companies and traders
are campaigning for a so-called cap-and-trade system
in the U.S. It would set limits for the release of
carbon dioxide and let companies trade emissions allowances.
Such a system already operates in the European Union,
where permit prices have been erratic since it started
"The system can be gamed; that's why financial
types like me like it -- because there are financial
opportunities," Soros said at a London School
of Economics seminar in July.
New global investment in renewable energy technology
totaled $25.9 billion in the third quarter, 22 percent
below the same quarter in 2008, according to New Energy
Finance, a London- based research company. The total
includes venture capital, private equity, public equity,
asset finance, bonds and corporate debt.
Investment in wind farms and solar parks that generate
electricity without carbon dioxide emissions continues
to trail levels seen in 2007 and 2008, New Energy
Finance said earlier this month. New investments this
year including research funded by governments and
companies will total about $110 billion, 29 percent
below 2008 and 26 percent off the 2007 total.
The world needs to spend about $1 trillion a year
to keep temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees
Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial
times, according to the London-based Climate Group,
which includes governments and businesses focused
on global warming. The 2-degree cap, supported by
the EU since 1996, has gained acceptance from insurers
as a level essential to controlling the cost of protecting
property and averting the worst effects of climate
Soros's philanthropic efforts to date have primarily
focused on promoting free and open societies, and
have included initiatives supporting education, free
press and public health.
In August, Soros donated $35 million to help needy
children in New York state buy back-to-school supplies,
and in May he made a $50 million challenge grant to
the Robin Hood Foundation, which helps fight poverty
in New York City.
To contact the reporters on this story: Katherine
Burton in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org; Jim Efstathiou
Jr. in New York at email@example.com.