Bill Gates is backing a new online climate news publication called Cipher, which is set to begin publication on September 29.
NS cipher The news site is headed by a Seattle-based executive director Amy Harder, who most recently covered climate issues in Washington, D.C. for Nerdshala before taking on the role in Gates. decisive energy in February.
Cipher’s stated mission is “to help accelerate the technological changes needed to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 through credible and objective journalism.” The site name, meaning zero, refers to the global decarbonization target. Cipher has been described as a weekly newsletter and video series.
While Gates is engaged in global health – the primary focus of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – he is putting increasing energy and resources to address the climate crisis. The Microsoft co-founder created Breakthrough Energy Ventures in 2015 to fund clean tech companies. He recently expanded that effort into the Breakthrough Energy umbrella organization that includes a suite of investment, innovation and policy initiatives. Gates also published a climate-focused book earlier this year.
The cipher site acknowledges a potential conflict of interest between its coverage and the ventures being largely adopted by Breakthrough Energy. It notes that its own editorial leadership will “have the final say on our journalism. When we cover topics, people and/or companies in or related to the Breakthrough Energy Network, we include disclaimers as needed.”
The contents of the Cipher will be available for free without advertisements, according to axios. The product will be funded by Breakthrough Energy, with the possibility of someday helping sponsors cover events and newsletters.
Cipher is appearing in several climate publications. It includes two other Seattle-based sources: grain to grind, an online climate news site that launched in 1999 and provides solutions-oriented coverage, and Voltage, a newsletter and podcast created last year by former Vox and Grist reporter David Roberts. National outlets have been increasing their climate reporting in recent years, for example with Bloomberg, launching bloomberg green To focus on the economics of climate change and climate technology.
Harder has covered environmental news for more than a decade. She was previously an energy reporter for The Wall Street Journal and the National Journal. Her job at Breakthrough Energy marks her return to Washington State, where she graduated with a journalism degree from Western Washington University in Bellingham.