The United Nations climate change conference got off to a strong start in Paris on Monday as governments and the private sector announced new initiatives to step up clean energy innovation.

The United States and 19 other countries launched “Mission Innovation,” committing to doubling their clean energy research and development budgets over the next five years. In parallel, a global group of private investors led by Bill Gates announced the launch of the “Breakthrough Energy Coalition” to help companies move clean energy innovation from the lab to the marketplace.

This is exactly the kind of public-private cooperation that the world needs to develop the new energy technologies that will power sustainable growth and combat climate change.

Accelerated research and development – supported by investors and governments alike – can reduce costs, find new solutions, and speed the transition away from fossil fuels. The new Coalition’s vision of “a dramatically scaled up public research pipeline linked to truly patient, flexible investments” is exactly the right combination.

At the same time, we have solutions in hand today, and we should move more rapidly to deploy them. Around the world, affordable clean energy technologies – from solar panels to wind turbines to microgrids and more – are providing families, businesses, and communities with the energy they need to thrive. The more we expand the use of these technologies, the more our economies and environment will benefit.

The reason for action is simple and urgent: We are already feeling the effects of worsening climate change around the world.

Women and girls are bearing the brunt: They are more likely to live in poverty and make their living through subsistence farming – making them vulnerable to drought, heat waves, and extreme weather events that threaten food production, their livelihoods, and the security of their families. For the communities that are hardest-hit, we need to help them adapt and become more resilient.

The response to climate change must involve everybody and every sector. Clean energy technologies, both the ones we have today and the ones that will be invented tomorrow, are key to solving our climate crisis, and governments can help catalyze greater private-sector investment. As Bill Gates and the new Coalition show, the new clean energy future is also an opportunity to improve our economies, as well as the health of the planet and its people.

The UN climate change conference is an important moment for everyone – whether you’re a head of state, a CEO, or a citizen – to get involved in solving the challenge of climate change. Together, we can make a clean energy future a reality.

[Photo: UNFCCC]