By SYLVIE CORBET, KARL RITTER and SETH BORENSTEIN
PARIS (AP) - Government and business leaders plan to spend tens of billions of dollars in the next five years to develop clean energy technology in efforts to fight global warming, an official and a former official have told The Associated Press.
The initiative, which will be announced Monday along with the opening of the U.N. climate summit, involves Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande, according to a French official and a former U.S. official who weren't authorized to talk on the record.
France, the U.S., India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Canada and Norway have already decided to participate in the "ambitious" project that will aim at developing clean energies, the French official said.
The amount of money involved, from countries, companies and individuals would be in the tens of billions of dollars, according to the former U.S. government official, who is familiar with the initiative, and a document obtained by the AP. The money would be geared toward research and development of technologies, such as energy storage that could make clean power from wind and solar more usable regardless of weather vagaries.
"They are committed to making increased investments in existing technologies and new breakthrough technologies to lower the cost of emissions reductions," the former U.S. government official said. The former official said what's especially important to Gates is the idea of alleviating energy poverty, which is millions of people who can't get energy. That includes parts of India.
Their pledges will be conditional on governments also pledging more money for that purpose, the former U.S. official said.
According to an early draft of the initiative, which at the time was called "Mission Innovation," governments participating were pledging to double their clean energy research and development spending in the next five years.
The complicated thing for the U.S. is getting such funds approved by a Republican Party controlled Congress.
"The Obama administration recognizes that this is a fundamental competitive advantage for the United States. It's time to double down on that competitive advantage" and invest far more in clean energy research and development, the former U.S. official said.
The official highlighted storing electricity, which is especially crucial for wind and solar power that can be intermittent because of the weather. One key there is improving batteries and there have been breakthroughs both in technology and production announced this year. One of those was space and electric car tycoon Elon Musk, whose Gigafactory has started to produce large batteries for home power storage to make solar and wind power more viable.
The conference center that will host the climate summit that starts officially Monday with more than 140 world leaders and continues for two weeks with lower level negotiators started off quiet Sunday and started to bustle as the day grew on. U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres said Sunday that she remained optimistic about the outcome.
Formal negotiations between lower level officials are scheduled to begin late Sunday. On Monday, more than 140 leaders are expected to arrive, including leaders of the United States, China and Russia, to talk about their commitment to fight climate change and reduce ever-rising carbon dioxide emissions.
Armed security was noticeable nearly everywhere at the Le Bourget center where negotiations will take place. The Le Bourget center formally became a temporary U.N. site in a ceremony Saturday in which French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who is president of the summit, handed over the keys to the site to Figueres.
Meanwhile, French police fired tear gas and clashed with demonstrators on Paris' Place de la Republique square in an early test of the authorities' determination to ban public demonstrations during the international climate negotiations. Thousands of demonstrators gathered in central Paris and formed a human chain along the route of a long-planned protest march that was banned by France's Socialist government in a security crackdown following attacks by Islamic extremists earlier this month.
In mid-afternoon scuffles broke out between riot police and protesters on the Place de la Republique, where Parisians have gathered to place flowers in remembrance of the 130 mostly young victims of the Nov. 13 attacks.