Bill Gates on the long-term approach to climate change says you can call Putin in 10 years ‘and tell him you don’t need him’
Bill Gates has been a proponent of fighting climate change and so it’s no surprise that he lobbied for the Cut Inflation Act of 2022, which was signed into law by the President Joe Biden August 16.
What happened: The billionaire addressed several aspects of climate change in Bloomberg’s “Zero” podcast, which was recorded ahead of the legislation and released on Thursday.
At the request of the host Akshat Rathi why he hasn’t given all his money for innovation that can fight climate change, Gates said innovation is not a “cheque-writing process.”
“The cost is way beyond what anyone could afford,” the Microsoft co-founder added.
According to Gates, it’s not just a purely financial issue – it involves finding the right people to support, bringing in other funders, and using markets and government R&D budgets.
On the way to Zero Green Premium: For collective action, which would involve both rich and middle-income countries, the green bounty should be reduced to zero, said the tech entrepreneur turned philanthropist. The green premium is the difference between the cost of making something with and without emissions that cause climate change.
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Gates also called for a higher economy-wide carbon tax, adding that in the long run it should match the direct cost of capturing air. Direct air capture is a technology that can remove carbon dioxide directly from the air. Gates noted that the retail price per ton of Direct Air Capture is currently around $500.
Innovations in agriculture have been amazing, Gates said. He noted that there are funds to improve photosynthesis and design it to be twice as efficient.
Degrowth and Climate Concerns: Asked what degrowth some people are advocating for, Gates said he doesn’t think it’s realistic to say people will change their way of life because of climate concerns. “You can have a cultural revolution where you try to mess it up, you can create a North Korean-like situation where the state is in control,” he said.
He said that would simply result in a massive central authority that everyone would be forced to submit to, but that would not completely resolve the issue of collective action.
Gates also disagreed with the concept of finite resources, which is the thesis behind degrowth. “We can grow enough food, water doesn’t disappear, minerals don’t disappear. This is not a Malthusian situation,” he said.
Long term approach: Gates added that the majority of climate-related problems only have five- to ten-year solutions.
“So when people say to me, ‘Hey, we like your climate stuff because we can tell Putin we don’t need him,’ say, ‘Yeah, in 10 years. Call him and tell him you don’t need him,” he said.
Gates also called for a compromise. While emissions reductions are good in the long term, in the short term you have to find a solution, even if it means emissions will go up, he added.
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