Former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates doubts the world can hit goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees, but praises UK’s green progress
Microsoft co-founder and one of the world’s richest men, Bill Gates, put his philanthropy hat on when he attended the first week of the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow, Scotland.
Gates left unwelcome headlines about his personal life behind, and instead weighed in one of the subjects he gained a great deal of recognition as being an expert, namely the environment and global warming.
In 2015 for example, as part of his ongoing philanthropic work, he unveiled a machine that turns human waste into drinkable water and free electricity for developing countries.
During an interview with MP and former health secretary Jeremy Hunt for the think tank Policy Exchange, the billionaire revealed his concern about the world hitting a key environmental target.
Under the Paris Agreement, nearly 200 countries said they would aim to “limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.”
But Bill Gates remains to be convinced the world can actually hit this target.
“It’s all a matter of degrees, so to speak. That is, you know, hitting 2.5 is better than hitting 3, hitting 2 is better than hitting 2.5,” he was quoted by CNBC as saying. “1.5 … will be very difficult, I doubt that we’ll be able to achieve that.”
As a reminder, the 1.5 degrees Celsius limit is a crucial global target because beyond this level, so-called tipping points become more likely.
Tipping points refer to an irreversible change in the climate system, locking in further global warming, CNBC reported.
The Microsoft co-founder also said there was “no comparable feat that mankind has ever achieved to what we need to do for climate change.”
Gates acknowledged that mankind was “much richer today, far more knowledgeable today – we do have the digital tools that enable us to work on these things.”
“What happened with solar panels, where they were very expensive and now they’re cheap, or lithium ion batteries, we need to do that for about six other technologies,” he reportedly added.
This included being able to produce ‘green’ steel, cheap hydrogen and offshore wind.
Gates said for this to happen, lots of money would be required and that there were “many paths of innovation.” This innovation would have to be rapid, he added.
And Bill Gates highly praised the UK for its environmental efforts, when asked by Hunt how the UK was dealing with climate issues.
“The UK actually, is exemplary,” Gates reportedly said. “Coal started here and yet there’s periods of time when the coal emissions in the UK are zero.”
“I admit I was worried when they merged the climate department and the business department,” he went on to state. This is reference to when in 2016, the British government combined the Department of Energy and Climate Change with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
“I thought, OK, will climate get lost in that? In fact, the right thing happened, which is more business-oriented, analytical thinking came together with people who understood the climate,” Gates reportedly said.
“And that, I think, is why the UK has made progress on this,” said Gates. “No, the UK gets a very good grade on climate progress.”
Gates has previously praised the UK, when he was asked to name a country practising good environmental policies.
He pointed specifically to the UK’s efforts on offshore wind farming, for its power production.