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Bill Gates and UK PM strike £400m climate deal for green tech

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right) appears on stage in conversation with American Businessman Bill Gates during the Global Investment Summit at the Science Museum, London. Picture date: Tuesday October 19, 2021.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right) appears on stage in conversation with American Businessman Bill Gates during the Global Investment Summit at the Science Museum, London. Photo: PA

As the UK's Global Investment Summit begins, Johnson welcomed business leaders including Microsoft (MSFT) co-founder Bill Gates at the Science Museum in London on Tuesday.

The UK government is partnering with Gates on new investment in new tech to reduce emissions, with a combined cash injection of £400m ($552.5) in net-zero projects.

Opening the summit, Johnson hailed free market capitalism for the creation of the COVID-19 vaccine.

"Innovation, capitalism, and a strong government lead," Johnson said, are therefore needed to combat climate change in the future. He also noted that lessons from the pandemic had shown that the combination of science and investment had produced results.

The UK is the "Saudi Arabia of wind power," said Johnson, and needs to be the "Qatar of hydrogen" to drive a net zero future.

Read more: UK launches £5,000 heat pump grants as part of homes decarbonisation drive

Speaking to Gates in a fireside chat, Johnson stressed the need for companies to make stronger commitments to reduce emissions in four areas of progress: "Coal, cars, cash and trees."

He also said that richer countries need to show more solidarity with poorer countries to make meaningful progress.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson has also laid out pledges worth £9.7bn in overseas investment in the UK — a move that Number 10 says will create 30,000 new jobs. 

Downing Street said Johnson will announce 18 investment deals, which are set to support growth in sectors such as wind and hydrogen energy, sustainable homes, and carbon capture tech. 

Johnson will later push the government's "levelling up" message, outlining how the new investment will drive the UK's economic recovery from COVID-19. 

“The world’s top investors have seen the massive potential in the UK for growth and innovation in the industries of the future,” he said.

“This is just the start. We will see new partnerships for green growth forged at today’s Global Investment Summit, as we look ahead to COP26 and beyond.”

Read more: European markets sluggish as traders keep eyes on rising inflation and interest rates

Among investments the government has announced is a £6bn boost for offshore windfarms from Iberdrola (IBE.MC), which should create 7,000 jobs. 

A £1.5bn investment from Prologis (PLD) for developing net zero carbon warehouses is also in the pipeline and will support around 14,000 new jobs across London, the South-East and Midlands.

Viridor, owned by US firm KKR (KKR), also plans to invest up to £1bn into cutting-edge decarbonisation technology across five of their UK sites, creating 1,180 jobs. Viridor aims to become the first net zero waste company by 2030, and this new investment will also reduce fossil emissions at their UK sites by up to 90%.

Watch: Explained: Key things to watch for at COP26

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