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(and probably make money doing it)

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Richard Branson, Virgin
Net worth: $4.6 billion
Branson founded the Carbon War Room to attract entrepreneurs and market-driven ideas. Among its initiatives: transforming Branson’s own Necker Island into a solar- and wind-driven oasis, as a test case for island nations.

Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

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Bill Gates, Microsoft
Net worth: $67 billion
Gates is betting big on nuclear. Through TerraPower, he’s developing a reactor that aims to produce a fraction of the nuclear waste of current ones. Look for a start-up around 2022.

Michael Sohn/The Associated Press

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Larry Page, Google
Net worth: $23 billion
With his pledge to make Google into a zero-carbon emitter, Page has been looking for creative solutions—among them, spending big bucks on wind and solar. To date, Google has spent about $1 billion on the effort.

Eric Risberg/The Associated Press

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T. Boone Pickens, oil tycoon
Net worth: $1.2 billion
Pickens is spending millions on a plan to build a massive wind power corridor in the Midwest and to convert the country’s heavy trucks to liquefied natural gas. He’s the largest investor in Clean Energy Fuels, which builds LNG fuelling stations.

LM Otero/The Associated Press

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Tom Steyer, Farallon Capital
Net worth: $1.4 billion
Steyer spent $40 million to found the TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy at Stanford University, and millions more on the Advanced Energy Economy Institute. He has also vowed to fight TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline.

J. Scott Applewhite/The Associated Press

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Peter Thiel, PayPal and Facebook
Net worth: $1.6 billion
Though he once called clean-tech a “disaster,” Thiel recently invested in LightSail, a company developing energy storage for large-scale wind and solar projects. He also funds Breakout Labs, which supports early-stage scientific research.

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Breakout Labs gave $300,000 to Canadian engineer Louis Michaud to build a prototype of his Atmospheric Vortex Engine, which pumps warm or humid air into a circular station to create a controlled tornado, then uses that power to drive turbines. Michaud estimates an AVE power station (with a diameter of 100 metres) could generate 200 megawatts of electrical power—the same as a conventional coal station—for about three cents per kilowatt-hour.

Craig Glover/The Toronto Star

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