Our grandchildren will pay if we don’t fix climate change

Microsoft Corp co-founder Bill Gates delivers a speech at the National Assembly on August 16, 2022 in Seoul, South Korea.

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The idea of ​​becoming a grandparent is emotional for billionaire even to write about.

“Recently, I began to see the world through a new lens – when my eldest daughter gave me the unbelievable news that I would be a grandpa next year,” Gates wrote in a letter that was published. at midnight on Tuesday on his personal blog, Gates Notes. .

Gates’ 26-year-old daughter Jennifer and her husband, Nayel Nassar, are expecting their first child in 2023.

“Just typing the phrase ‘I’m going to be a grandpa next year’ makes me emotional,” Gates wrote. “And that thought brings a new dimension to my work. When I think about the world my grandchildren will be born into, I’m more inspired than ever to help people’s children and grandchildren have a chance to live. survive and grow.”

Gates continued, over 12 pages, to summarize the work of his eponymous charity, the organization Gates Foundationworking for children living in global poverty, to improve education, to prepare for pandemics and to fight polio and AIDS.

Gates also talked about the work he is doing to combat climate change, both through the Gates Foundation on a philanthropic basis and supporting early-stage climate companies with his investment firm. Venture Breakthrough Energy.

How well the current generation of leaders respond to climate change will impact future generations, was the first point Gates made in the climate change section of his letter. .

“I can summarize the solution to climate change in two sentences: We need to eliminate global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050,” Gates wrote. “Severe weather has caused more suffering and if we don’t reach net zero, our grandchildren will grow up in a much worse world.”

Going to 0 would be the hardest thing a human has ever done.


Microsoft co-founder, climate investor

Approaching the ‘hardest thing man has ever done’ with philanthropic and for-profit companies

And while the implications of meeting that challenge are clear, so is the scale of the challenge.

“I can sum up the challenge in two sentences: Going to zero would be the hardest thing man has ever done,” Gates wrote. “We need to revolutionize the entire physical economy—the way we make things, move around, produce electricity, grow food, keep warm and cool—in less than three decades. “

Gates began researching climate change when he learned about the struggles of small farmers in the countries where the charity that bears his name is active. The Gates Foundation funds climate adaptation work, such as helping people adapt to the effects of a warming world where no profits are made by a commercial enterprise.

“It starts with the idea that the poorest people are suffering the most from climate change, but businesses have no natural incentive to create tools to help them,” Gates wrote.

“A seed company could profit from a new tomato that is a nicer red and doesn’t bruise easily, but it has no incentive to create better varieties of cassava to (a) survive the floods and droughts and (b) cheap enough for the world’s low-income farmers,” Gates wrote. “The role of the fund is to ensure that the poorest people benefit from the same innovative skills that benefit richer countries.”

Why poorer countries want rich countries to pay their climate change bills

Not all of Gates’ climate work is charitable. Breakthrough Energy Ventures funds early-stage companies working to build and grow companies to decarbonize different sectors of the economy. Building for-profit companies to solve a problem that affects the well-being of people around the world could be viewed as a bad thing for Gates, of whom he himself has made a small fortune. bear my name — 103.6 billion USD according to Forbes since Monday.

Gates says that the global decarbonization industry is too big of a problem even for his rich wallet.

“Charity alone cannot eliminate greenhouse gases. Only markets and governments can achieve such speed and scale,” Gates said. He said any profits Gates makes from the investments he makes in Breakthrough Energy Companies will go back to climate activism or to charity.

And, if the companies that are working to tackle climate change can be self-sustaining and affordable, they will attract other investors to put their money in them besides the likes of Gates, as he did. publicly stated, is working to give away his huge resources.

“Companies need to be profitable so they can grow, stay afloat, and prove that there’s a market for their product,” Gates writes. “The profit incentive will attract other innovators, create competition that will lower the price of zero-emission inventions, and have a meaningful impact on emissions from buildings.”

Greenhouse gas emissions and money pouring into climate technology are still increasing

The bad news is that greenhouse gas emissions are still on the rise.

“Unfortunately, we’re missing short-term targets. Between 2021 and 2022, global emissions actually increased from 51 billion tons of carbon equivalent to 52 billion tons,” Gates wrote.

On Monday, the UN secretary-general also highlighted the grim reality of the current times on climate change.

“Climate change is another area where good news is hard to find. We’re still going in the wrong direction,” António Guterres said on Monday. “The global emissions gap is widening. The 1.5-degree target is gasping. National climate plans are unfortunately falling short.”

Despite the gloom of the current climate, one area of ​​optimism for Gates is investing in decarbonizing technologies.

“We have gone much further than I anticipated a few years ago in attracting companies to invest in zero-carbon breakthroughs,” Gates wrote.

Wages for climate research and development have increased by a third since the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, and in the United States, laws passed this year will put $500 billion into infrastructure transitions. energy layer away from fossil fuel-based sources, according to the Gateway.

Private money is also pouring into climate technologies at a good rate. Gates writes: Venture capital firms have invested $70 billion in clean energy startups over the past two years.

Watch the full CNBC interview with Breakthrough Energy Founder Bill Gates


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