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Financier Soros to invest $1 billion in clean tech

George Soros will invest $1 billion on clean-energy technology, and he plans to provide $10 million a year over the next 10 years for the newly created Climate Policy Initiative.

Can a $1 billion help save the environment? George Soros hopes so.

The billionaire financier and philanthropist plans to invest part of his wealth on clean tech to fight global warming. In a speech at the Project Syndicate editors' forum in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Saturday, Soros gave the keynote address announcing his new plans.

Soros said he will invest $1 billion in clean-energy technologies and will provide $100 million--$10 million each year for the next 10 years--for the new Climate Policy Initiative, a watchdog-type foundation to promote measures to combat climate change.

"Global warming is a political problem," Soros announced to the meeting of editors in Copenhagen, the same city where representatives from around the world will meet in December to try to hammer out a new climate agreement. "The science is beyond dispute," he added, "but how do we achieve the objectives we all know are necessary? That is a political problem."

The need for cleaner coal has been a critical issue for Soros, who has invested in so-called "clean coal" technologies. In April, he was part of a consortium that funded $50 million toward PowerSpan, a firm researching and developing methods for cleaner coal.

On another front, Soros announced last year that his investment fund would pour $25 million in funds toward Qteros, a company that can make cleaner ethanol from a single microbe.

Soros offered few details on where he plans to invest the $1 billion. But he said he will look for profitable opportunities, and also "insist that the investments make a real contribution to solving the problem of climate change."

Clean energy has been a key issue for Soros. The billionaire has given speeches and interviews promoting development of alternative energy as not just a necessary goal but one that could revive the global economy.

Of course, clean energy has become an increasingly popular sector all around. A recent report on venture capital funding found that more money is being invested in green tech than in software or biotech.

Born in Budapest in 1930, Soros survived both the Nazi and Communist occupations of Hungary. After fleeing to England where he studied economics, he eventually settled in the United States. Soros amassed his huge fortune as the chairman of Soros Fund Management. He was recently ranked by Forbes as the 15th richest American, with an estimated net worth of $13 billion.