Greenhouse gas emissions are stemming from every sector of the global economy, and it is a massive problem now. To combat this issue, Activists state that we should consume less and move to degrowth. However, this might not be a good idea.
This idea is too starry-eyed, according to Bill Gates, who founded Breakthrough Energy, an investment fund for climate technology and innovation, in 2015 and published “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster” in 2021.
“I don’t think it’s realistic to say that people are utterly going to change their lifestyle because of concerns about climate,” Gates said to Akshat Rathi in an episode of the Bloomberg podcast, “Zero,” which was published on Thursday. The interview was recorded in August before the Inflation Reduction Act was passed.
“You can have a cultural revolution where you’re trying to throw everything up, you can create a North Korean-type situation where the state’s in control. Other than immense central authority to have people just obey, I think the collective action problem is just completely not solvable,” Gates said.
“Anyone who says that we will tell people to stop eating meat or stop wanting to have a nice house, and we’ll just basically change human desires, I think that that’s too difficult,” Gates said. “You can make a case for it. But I don’t think it’s realistic for that to play an absolutely central role.”
Gates stated that he pays $9 million annually to make up for his own greenhouse gas emissions, he said.
“But just having a few rich countries, a few rich companies and a few rich individuals buy their way out so they can say they’re not part of the problem, that has nothing to do with solving the problem,” Gates said.
“People who are in the climate space may not realize how many things are competing for the modest number of increased resources that society has,” Gates said. “And that not that many people are prepared to be worse off because of climate requirements.”
Gates proposes that a solution would be to develop sophisticated technological alternatives that make it possible to achieve goals in an environment-friendly way with fewer costs.
Gates’ investment fund, Breakthrough Energy Ventures is designed to encourage early-stage startups that are working to create innovative ways of doing existing processes. This will help the cause too, according to him.
“When people say to me, ‘Hey, we love your climate stuff because we can tell Putin we don’t need him.’ I say, ‘Yeah, 10 years from now. Call him up and tell him you don’t need him,’” Gates said.
When we think about the future, however, finding new ways of supporting people is the only practical solution, according to Gates. “I’m looking at what the world has to do to get to zero, not using climate as a moral crusade,” he said.