Bill Gates speaks during the Global Investment Summit at the Science Museum on October 19, 2021 in London, England.

Leon Neal | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Bill Gates has stressed the urgent need for businesses to step up and invest in emerging green technologies as the fight against climate change intensifies.

Speaking via videoconference at The Davos Agenda virtual event Wednesday, Gates said the support and investment of the private sector was needed to make the new technologies more widely available.

Environmentally-friendly developments in areas such as green hydrogen, direct air capture and clean aviation fuel already exist, but businesses need to both help build — and become customers of — such products to make them more affordable, he said.

“In the end, it really does come down to economics. We have to make it far more economic,” said Gates, whose company Breakthrough Energy invests in sustainable technologies.

“Pairing those new technologies with the big companies, that have skills to build those things at scale, I see that as the urgent agenda.”

The comments come months after COP26 in Glasgow, which saw record commitments to climate action from the private sector. These included corporate signs ups to the First Movers Coalition, a sustainable investment initiative launched by the World Economic Forum and U.S. climate envoy John Kerry.

Also speaking Wednesday, Kerry hailed the “unprecedented private sector engagement” at COP26, calling it a vital part of the solution.

“No government in the world has the amount of money we need to affect this transition,” he said at The Davos Agenda. “It will be private sector investment and private sector discovery more than anything else … that’s what’s going to get us out of this hole.”

Tipping points being arrived at

However, Kerry also stressed the urgency for more companies to get involved.

“We know we can do the things. We now have to push the process as rapidly as we can,” he said. “That’s the vision we have to bring to the table in the next months and years.”

Last week, the World Economic Forum published its Global Risks Report 2022, in which failure to act on climate change was cited as the greatest global risk over the next 10 years.

In a separate report also release last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that 2021 was one of the most catastrophic climate years on record, with the U.S. alone being hit by 20 separate billion-dollar disasters.

“The NOAA report should scare anyone,” Kerry said. “We really are seeing tipping points arrived at and the imperative to move faster really could not be greater.”

— Don’t miss Geoff Cutmore’s discussion with ECB President Christine Lagarde, Brazilian Economy Minister Paulo Guedes, IMF MD Kristalina Georgieva and India’s Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati at 7.30 a.m. ET Friday. They’ll be discussing the “Global Economic Outlook” at the Davos Agenda. You can watch live here.

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