Breakthrough Energy Ventures declared its 5-part investment strategy last week and since then there has been online chatter indicating many industry giants gathering around the process. The initiative was launched in 2015 at the Paris climate conference and started making buzz again after the One Planet Summit which took place in Paris, France on 12th December this year headed by the French president Emmanuel Macron (read more:“France, Macron and the 18 Scientists” )

  The group's commitment statement indicates that the main concern with the implementation of clean energy solutions across the world is the time taken for the technology transfer. It states, “Unfortunately, these energy transitions can take hundreds of years, and we don't have hundreds of years to transition to clean energy. Climate change is already harming hundreds of millions of people. The world must speed up the cycle of innovation”. To speed up the cycle of innovation there should be significant resources allocations. We see nowadays that most of the developing countries opt to go for hydro energy solutions to increase the renewable quota than committing to solar, wind and hybrid solutions. Such countries who jump into projects without proper assessments has been facing numerous problems with their projects and balancing the energy mix. Therefore, timely intervention from an initiative like this is useful. But we need to stress that the interventions should align with community needs rather than blind technology transfer. Listed under the areas of focus in their recent updates are

Grid-scale storage

Liquid fuel


Alternative building materials


They state these focus areas are determined based on the megatrends shaping the world in next 50 years. It is quite interesting the attention given to Geothermal (we will explore this in a later article) .Furthermore, this coalition also commits to build technologies that change the way the people live, eat, work, travel and to introduce mechanisms to mitigate the devastating impacts of climate change. Therefore, their scope is likely to go beyond clean energy and hopefully account for the civil conflicts, human movements, and population growth among other global issues.

  Let's also look at who are included in this coalition. So far commonly known entities like Microsoft, Virgin, General Electric, and University of California are included and individuals like Jeff Bezos (The richest person in the world), Mukesh Ambani, Michael Bloomberg, Jack Ma, Retan Tata and Mark Zuckerberg are listed. So far in total the list includes 17 entities and 31 individuals. Under another sub-topic they list the “Mission Innovation countries” highlighting the commitments of USD 31 billion to support the development of new and enhanced low-emissions technologies. These countries are listed here. The newsroom linked to their website mostly highlights news on Bill Gates commitments to the venture and we hope to see more updates on the work they do and specifics on the projects soon.

  Just couple of weeks ago  the famous tusker in Sri Lanka, “Dala Puuttuwa of Galigamuwa “ was killed and it created a massive public discussion regarding the human–elephant conflicts of Sri Lanka. Finally, investigators found that the intention of killing the mammoth being was sell the tusks and elephant pearls of it. There is a controversy that  even a Buddhist monk is also connected with this killing and it reveals up to which extent this barbarian phenomenon has been spreading in the country. The human elephant conflict here is not new one, even centuries ago it was in this land according to historical records like Robert Knox. According to data gathered by the Elephant Conservation Unit of the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC), around 2,844 elephants were killed by farmers and 1,138 people were killed by elephants between the years from 1991 to 2010, while a total of 3,103 homes in Sri Lanka were destroyed by elephants (2004 to 2007)

  Sri Lanka has10-20% percent of the Asian elephant population; the density is higher than any other member state in this region. A land area of nearly five square kilometers is needed to support an elephant to make sure the natural balance that exists between the elephant and the dry zone habitats is not disturbed. According to this data, to current population of 3,500 elephants requires around 17,500 square kilometers   or 27%  of the total land area while the protected areas in Sri Lanka covers only 12.5%  of the land area (or 8,200 km2). This indicates that nature parks and reserves are not able to ensure the sustainable prevalence of these beings and sustainable solutions are much needed and to reach the prevailing solutions and the political willingness is the most necessary factor.

The lack of sufficient land area for existence of elephants is the foremost reason for human elephant conflicts. Droughts, floods and other climate change related incidents have been intensifying the conflicts in Sri Lanka while Sri Lanka has been ranked as one of the highest risk countries for climate change in 2018, according to global climate risk index. Therefore, there needs to be steps beyond understanding the issue. We will further discuss this in the second part of this article chain.

There was a special conference on climate change which took place in Paris last week which caught the eyes of many. The Science magazine in its article indicated this as the “French President Emmanuel Macron’s effort to lure disgruntled foreign climate scientists to France—especially from the United States”. The event which was also called the One Planet Summit , was held on 12th December. 

 Justifying this statement by the Science magazine to a certain extent, France later announced that Macron’s “Make Our Planet Great Again” initiative has recruited its first class of 18 scientists. Of the new recruits, 13, including a few French nationals, now “work in the United States”, whereas others are based outside US. These selections were made out of nearly 1800 applications which were mostly from United States. The first set of winners were offered grants whereas the next set of winners will be announced in spring 2018. Reportedly there were 57 proposals turned in to the French National Research Agency and therefore, we shall expect at least two stages of grant offers.

One of the scientists, Prof. Camille Parmesan, who was a co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Prize awarded to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was quite positive towards the concept. Many believe that this is another answer to the American presidency which opted to leave the Climate Agreement this year closer to the UNFCCC COP 23. We hope this could be a substantial commitment than the hype created over Syria deciding to join the climate deal in November despite the ongoing civil conflict. This is mainly because we were not convinced of the possible real motives behind Syria joining the climate deal.    

Further outcomes of the event can be viewed here :Outcome Summary

The recent escalation in the activity level of Mount Agung was yet again an instant of human vulnerability in the face of natural calamities. However, volcanology remains one of foremost areas of studies that stays on top of close observation of earth’s geothermal activities and hence is able to closely predict possibilities of disasters related to this area.

The escalating activity within the Mount Agung; an 2995m stratovolcano on the North-Eastern side of the island of Bali, Indonesia, with emissions of a great amount of ash and lahar flows caused scientists to predict that an eruption was at hand. There was historic data about the volcano’s past activity to predict what is to be expected. Tens of thousands of people were evacuated according to BBC and a “red warning” issued to airlines about volcanic ash in the skies.

However, people were ordered to return to their homes and the airport opened to business after there was a relative subsiding in the volcanic activity. Although there was no eruption, this was an instance where many steps were taken to mitigate and manage a disaster. A significant amount of sulfur and ash has already been released to the atmosphere according to NASA observations and this naturally implies future weather and climatic impacts.


Further readings : Each Volcano Has Unique Warning Signs That Eruption Is Imminent