Bill Gates optimistic about climate innovation

Bill Gates says he is optimistic about climate innovation even though the 1.5 degree Celsius target seems out of reach.
Bill Gates environnement

Bill Gates says he is optimistic about climate innovation even though the 1.5 degree Celsius target seems out of reach.

A goal out of reach

Bill Gates, when it comes to climate change, considers himself a realist. The American billionaire admits that the world has no chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Bill Gates states:

“Given the global scale of our industrial economy … We’re going to have to do a breathtaking job to stay below 2 degrees.”

The software developer turned philanthropist is nevertheless optimistic about climate innovation. For example, Bill Gates seeks to advance low-carbon technologies. To that end, it has relied on funding from the Breakthrough Energy Group since 2015.

The billionaire is already investing more than $2 billion in climate technologies. Among them are direct air capture (DAC) and solar energy. It is also seeking to develop nuclear fission with TerraPower, which aims to have a demonstration reactor operating by 2030.

Bill Gates transferred $20 billion of his funds to the Gates Foundation endowment. The bill calls for increased philanthropic spending on public health and education. Thus, it would increase from $6 billion to $9 billion in the coming years.

He also congratulated Warren Buffett for his contribution. According to Bill Gates, this contribution amounts to $45 billion since 2006. This is based in particular on the appreciation of Berkshire Hathaway shares.

However, according to Bill Gates, in order to produce results, philanthropy alone is not enough. It must be combined with climate innovation, a key point in the fight against global warming. For example, through
through the group
Energy, which he founded in 2015, he promotes renewable energy.

Companies in the group
companies are targeting $3.5 billion in contracts announced by the U.S. government to build DAC plants. Nevertheless, despite the disappointments of maintaining climate targets, the Microsoft founder remains optimistic. According to him, we must not only prevent a warmer world, but also adapt to the consequences that this entails.

Bill Gates states:

“Given the global scale of our industrial economy, we’re going to have to make huge efforts to stay below 2°C. But when it comes to the Paris Accords, and the 1.5°C goal, no one wants to be the first to acknowledge that mathematically that’s no longer within reach.”

The software developer turned philanthropist is however multiplying initiatives related to climate innovation. The Breakthrough group funds many technologies that have low carbon emissions in common.

Adapting rather than trying in vain to limit

Another example is the development of air capture technology by some of the Breakthrough companies. This technology consists in extracting CO2 from the atmosphere. The companies intend to win $3.5 billion in bids to build DAC plants.

This funding will also support research. At the same time, Bill Gates notes that the recent inflation reduction legislation is boosting the prospects for climate innovation. Breakthrough Energy operates separately from the philanthropic arm of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

In his recent letter to shareholders, he demonstrates that the climate problem is too important. Philanthropy alone will not solve this problem. Bill Gates clarifies:

“Funding is not enough, so there must be innovation […] the idea that the transition can be achieved by brute force is highly unlikely.”

Nevertheless, the foundation continues its philanthropic activities in the fight against global warming.

Bill Gates states:

“Companies need both investment and technical support to prove their low-carbon ideas beyond the pilot phase. They also need support to scale up the production of their ideas.”

It should also be noted that the profits of the Breakthrough Energy group are donated either to the group or to the Gates Foundation. With the objective of global warming below 1.5°C now mathematically impossible to achieve, the objective is to adapt.

According to Bill Gates, planning ahead will allow us to be better prepared for a warmer future. The billionaire states:

“Mitigation still represents the largest portion of Breakthrough’s investment. However, we will also fund work related to adaptation.”

These investments could involve several technologies.

Forest fire control and the use of coral reef-like structures to prevent flooding. He also mentions the introduction of drought-resistant crop strains. According to the Microsoft founder, the manufacturing sector is making impressive efforts to reduce its carbon impact.

He particularly salutes the steel and cement industries. This is a change from Bill Gates’ concerns two years ago. According to the billionaire, these are the sectors in particular that need to invest and incentivize climate innovation.

Bill Gates states:

“Right now, I don’t feel that there is any area of global warming mitigation that is devoid of initiative.”

With the recent Cop27, the reality of global warming and the need for innovation is clearly observable. Most countries are thus multiplying their initiatives to keep warming below 2°C.

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