Bill Gates’ £400m claim about green investment was wrong

19 October 2021
What was claimed

Bill Gates and the UK government are contributing £400 million each to a new fund designed to boost green investment.

Our verdict

This is not correct. The new fund is worth £400 million in total, with each party contributing £200 million.

Boris Johnson: So together we’re putting in £200 million, I think Bill [Gates]’s putting in £200 million if I’ve got the numbers right, just checking.
Bill Gates: £400 [million] each.

Bill Gates wrongly claimed that Breakthrough Energy (a network founded by Mr Gates) and the UK government were each contributing £400 million to a partnership designed to boost green investment. Mr Gates said this on Tuesday, 19 October, during a live broadcast conversation with Boris Johnson at the Global Investment Summit, where his comments caused some confusion.

In fact, each party is contributing £200 million each with Breakthrough Energy Catalyst (a project of Breakthrough Energy) matching funding announced by the UK, representing a total fund of £400 million. This is confirmed by a government press release, published on the same day (19 October). 

The Department for International Trade (DIT) confirmed to Full Fact that the £200 million UK funding is solely provided by the UK government, primarily through the £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio

DIT said the £200 million from the UK government had already been announced, but the £200 million match fund from Breakthrough Energy Catalyst, consisting of private funds, was newly announced on 19 October

A Downing Street spokesperson did not directly say that Mr Gates misspoke, but confirmed the information in the government’s press release—which specifies that the UK government and Breakthrough Energy Catalyst will each invest £200 million—was correct. 

The funding will be used “to drive investment into the next generation of ground-breaking clean energy technologies”. 

Full Fact has contacted Breakthrough Energy for comment.

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