Solving Covid ‘easy’ compared to tackling climate change, says Bill Gates

Bill Gates says ending Covid pandemic ‘very, very easy’ compared to tackling climate change

Microsoft founder wants to use technology to help world solve environmental crisis

Eleanor Sly@eleanor_sly
Tuesday 16 February 2021 22:28
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Bill Gates has said ending the global Covid pandemic will be “very, very easy” compared to the task of addressing the climate crisis. Managing to do this, he said, would be “the most amazing thing humanity has ever done”.

Mr Gates told the BBC: “We’ve never made a transition like we’re talking about doing in the next 30 years. There is no precedent for this.”

The Microsoft founder‘s new book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, which will be released on Tuesday, offers a guide on how to tackle global warming with a particular focus on the ways technology can be used to do this. 

The billionaire has argued that governments need to do more to help deter people from using fossil fuels.

He also suggested countries should be more transparent and use an economic system that prices in the real cost of using fossil fuels and the damage they are doing to the environment.

Currently, the world adds around 50 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere every year, which governments including the UK have pledged to cut to net zero in the coming decades.

This means that any carbon emissions would be balanced by absorbing the same amount from the atmosphere.

Many governments focus on using more renewable sources of energy. However Mr Gates said these only account for 30 per cent of total carbon emissions and the business magnate raised concerns about how to decarbonise the other 70 per cent.

This other 70 per cent includes emissions created by transport systems and the production of steel, cement and fertiliser.

A way to solve this would be innovation on a scale the world has never before seen, Mr Gates said.

He added that he remained optimistic that the world still had time to avoid the worst effects of climate change: “You know, I’ve seen many times, innovation surprises us in a positive way.”

Despite his interest in helping to save the planet from climate change, Mr Gates admitted to arriving at the 2015 Paris climate summit in a private plane.

“I am aware that I’m an imperfect messenger on climate change,” he said, according to an extract of his book. “The world is not exactly lacking in rich men with big ideas about what other people should do, or who think technology can fix any problem.

“I own big houses and fly in private planes – in fact, I took one to Paris for the climate conference, so who am I to lecture anyone on the environment?”

But the billionaire said he wanted his ideas to play a part in the green stimulus packages being proposed around the world, inlcuding those which will be discussed as the UK prepares to host a climate conference in Glasgow in November this year.

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