George Soros' $1 billion to green energy

The Takeaway

The following is a partial transcript; for full story, listen to audio.

It got a lot easier to be green ... or at least, research green energy. George Soros, the 29th richest man in the world has promised to invest $1 billion dollars into clean energy technologies.

On "The Takeaway, Stacy Palmer, editor of "The Chronicle of Philanthropy," says Soros' $1 billion pledge is only part of what he's contributing.

"The other thing he's promised is to put $100 million dollars into an environmental group that's going to help make sure that environmental policy is something that's very important," said Palmer. "So he's set up a group that's going to help shape policy, play  a watchdog role, and really try to advance policies to prevent environmental trouble.

"He said 'I'm investing the money in for-profit businesses, but I'm also doing things that only a non-profit organization can probably do in this area that's so contentious.'"

Palmer says it's not often that she sees a philanthropist, "coupling a business investment and a non-profit investment."

She adds that Soros wasn't specific about what the $1 billion will go towards, but that he was specific about solving the problem of global warming.

Soros' sizable pledge is significant, but not only in its amount, says Palmer.

"First of all it's new that Soros is getting involved in technology, and solving problems like this on the environment. He usually focuses on things like promoting a free press, improving education, improving health ... it's signaling a new area that he thinks other philanthropists might be interested in.

"It's also a significant amount of money -- to give $100 million dollars -- not very many philanthropists have been doing that in this recession. There's only been two gifts so far this year of that much money; typically by this time of the year we see at least 20 gifts of that size.

"So I think he's also saying it's time for philanthropists to start putting their money out; that although a lot of them lost money, it's time to invest in things. Many of them still have significant reserves that they can give away, so I think he's also saying 'it's time to put your passions to work'."

"The Takeaway" is a national morning news program, delivering the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what’s ahead. The show is a co-production of WNYC and PRI, in editorial collaboration with the BBC, The New York Times Radio, and WGBH.

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