Bill Gates says he still believes it’s possible avoid a climate disasterbut to do so would require substantial spending by the world’s richest nations – a sentiment that may not pass as well as the growing threat of a global recession.
Addressing the ecological threat facing the planet, Gates said in a blog post on Tuesday titled, “The State of Energy Transition,” will require the invention of clean technologies that replace the current ways we produce things like steel and fertilizer. The costs of those technologies would have to be low enough that they could be used around the world, he said — and their deployment would also have to be cost-competitive.
“Low- and middle-income countries are actively building to achieve the standard of living that their people desire — and they should be,” he wrote. “Many countries in Europe and North America have filled their atmospheres with carbon to achieve prosperity, and it is impractical and unfair to expect everyone else to give up a more comfortable life because That carbon turns out to change the climate.”
Gates notes that developing countries are responsible for two-thirds of all greenhouse gas emissions these days. China alone is responsible for more than a quarter of emissions, he noted. But since the first world nations earned their wealth through burning fossil fuels, Gates sees it as their responsibility to lead the development of solutions.
“Europe and the United States, the countries that have produced the majority of CO2 emissions historically, owe it to the world not only to eliminate our own emissions but to invest heavily,” he said. “This will give other countries that have little to do with causing climate change the opportunity to stop their greenhouse gas emissions while growing their economies and raising their living standards.”
While Gates says some governments and companies have demonstrated an understanding of the pressing nature of the climate problem, he still believes the world is not moving at a fast enough pace. Clean technologies, designed to reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions from 51 billion tons to zero are currently impractical, cost-effective, or impossible to deploy on a large scale.
And the way to avoid a climate crisis, he says, is to mobilize “the greatest crisis response in human history.”
Part of the reason it’s so difficult to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, he says, is because virtually everything we make and do generates them. ElectricityWhich, he said, is often cited as the main culprit, responsible for only 26% of global emissions. And shipping is only responsible for 16%.
Manufacturing is the largest sector, with industries such as cement, plastic and steel production causing 30% of emissions. And agriculture is in the top 3, generating 21%.
“Currently there is no cement plant in the world and to be exact a steel plant that does not generate CO2. “There are 2,412 coal-fired power plants in the world, and that number is still growing. Each of these trees will have to be replaced. “
Gates says his measure of success is Green insurance premium, the cost difference between clean technology and technology that emits more greenhouse gases. If businesses and governments can get those close to or below zero by 2040 for a wide range of products and processes, he said, that would be a good sign in the long run.
“This is the hardest challenge anyone has ever faced,” he said. “There has never been a mobilization of this scale, of this scale, at this rate, for such a long time. But humanity has also never faced an existential crisis like climate change. I’m optimistic about what people might face in a crisis, and in the long run, I wouldn’t bet against us. Unfortunately, we don’t have that luxury in the long run.”
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