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Opening a window to climate change – Bill Gates urges action

It might seem like a long leap, to go from being the co-creator of a fledgling computer company in the 1970s, to being one of the world’s wealthiest people offering ideas to halt climate change.

Bill Gates is easily one of the most recognisable names in the world, with an estimated net worth of $137 billion, as the founder of Microsoft, one of the world’s largest computer software and hardware companies.

It’s a fairytale. It’s like saying vaccines don’t work – that’s a form of science denialism. Why peddle fantasies to people?

– Bill Gates, Speaking to the Guardian on carbon neutrality

With his wife Melinda, he is a leading philanthropist, and the pair conduct their philanthropic work through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2015, Mr Gates managed to launch a multi-billion-dollar clean energy fund, affirming his commitment to helping tackle climate change.

In 2021, Bill Gates is publishing a book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, and is now giving his own insights into how countries must change their behaviour to avert damaging climate change.

A change in diet is required

One of Bill Gates’ first major suggestions is for richer nations to adopt a diet of 100 per cent synthetic meat. Food is one of the sectors in which change could prove to be harder to bring about, to reduce emissions. The rearing of cows is a large source of methane, and Bill Gates admits it could prove tricky to prevent this entirely.

Speaking with the MIT Technology Review magazine, Mr Gates explained: “For Africa and other poor countries, we’ll have to use animal genetics to dramatically raise the amount of beef [reared] per emissions for them.”

Mr Gates is of the view that lab-grown meat might be less accessible for low-to-middle income countries, but a more viable path for higher-income countries and regions. As we have written about before, lab-grown meat is beginning to attract support from the likes of PETA, but production remains small-scale at the present time.

For the time being, at least, synthetic meat could remain something of a rarity for some, until mass-production and more efficient supply chains make it more affordable.

Carbon neutrality takes time

The UK is one of the most prominent countries actively seeking to reduce its carbon emissions to net zero, with a legally enshrined target of doing so by 2050. Given the sheer length of time required for the UK to achieve this, it becomes clear that carbon neutrality is certainly achievable, but not overnight.

While some claim carbon neutrality could be achieved in as little as a decade, Bill Gates simply does not concur. In an interview with the Guardian newspaper, he claimed that “It’s a fairytale. It’s like saying vaccines don’t work – that’s a form of science denialism. Why peddle fantasies to people?”.

While the likes of Democrat Representative for New York’s 14th District Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez believe 2030 is a realistic deadline for doing so, Bill Gates is one of the world’s wealthiest people, but even he has realised money alone won’t speed up decarbonisation by itself.

There at more practical issues which might make net-zero by 2030 more of a pipedream, albeit one with noble intentions. Infrastructure building, such as creating hydrogen hubs for easier transit of clean hydrogen fuel, and the transition from combustion engine cars to EVs takes time and might seem slow and steady, but it is certainly progressing.

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