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Bill Gates insists we can make energy breakthroughs, even under President Trump

Gates tells Recode the time is right to pour big bucks into clean energy.

Bill Gates, speaking at Code Conference 2016 Asa Mathat

Bill Gates says he isn’t worried about investing millions in clean energy just as the White House is about to be inhabited by a man who says he isn’t convinced climate change is real.

“No matter what happens to the energy R&D budget, we are going to go out and find the ideas that are out there,” Gates told Recode in an interview today, following the formal announcement of Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a $1 billion clean energy fund led by Gates, along with investors including Vinod Khosla, Jack Ma and John Doerr. “It’s just more favorable if governments as a whole are putting more into the basic research level.”

So Gates is trying a different approach, pitching Trump on the other benefits that leadership in clean energy can bring.

“Research has pretty big payoffs, whether it is jobs or leadership. Even if you just put a security lens on it, energy is pretty important,” Gates said. “I hope people appreciate that, in terms of scientific understanding, we are in a pretty strong position. When you have an opportunity like that it is a good time to invest in it.”

Gates included energy policy on a short list of topics during an initial phone call with Trump. That said, Gates thinks it is too soon to tell if the message got through.

“It wasn’t a long enough call to get a clear sense,” Gates said.

Click here for the full interview.

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