PC: Hindustan Times

Emissions of greenhouse gases, which come from electricity generation, manufacturing, transportation, agriculture, and industrial operations, are a major contributor to climate change. Emissions of greenhouse gases as a whole have usually been increasing for decades. Degrowth, as it is frequently referred to by activists, is one potential answer to combating climate change.

According to Bill Gates, who established Breakthrough Energy in 2015 as an investment fund for climate technology and innovation and released “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster” in 2021, this proposal is implausible.

Gates told Akshat Rathi in an edition of the Bloomberg podcast “Zero,” which was released on Thursday, “I don’t think it’s fair to claim that people are absolutely going to change their lifestyle because of concerns about the environment.” Before the Inflation Reduction Act was passed, the interview was conducted in August.

“You can either engineer a system akin to North Korea where the state is in charge, or you can have a cultural revolution where you’re trying to throw everything up. I believe the collective action problem is just wholly unsolvable, without enormous central authority, which would just command everybody to follow, remarked Gates.

The millionaire technologist claimed that most people would not alter their own behaviour in ways that would be uncomfortable for them in order to solve an issue at the global level.

Anyone who claims that we can simply modify people’s wants by telling them to stop eating meat or not want a lovely house is unrealistic, according to Gates. “You could argue for it. However, I don’t think it’s feasible for that to have a starring role.

Even if wealthy nations and individuals are able to make cuts, there won’t be enough of a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, according to Gates, to effectively slow down climate change. According to Gates, he spends $9 million annually to offset his own greenhouse gas emissions.

Gates argued that buying one’s way out of a problem by a few wealthy nations, wealthy corporations, or wealthy individuals had little to do with actually solving the issue.

There are other other challenges vying for funding and attention as well, such as the worldwide pandemic, rising health care expenses, helping developing nations with problems other than climate change, and the conflict in Ukraine.

People who work in the climate change field might not be aware of how many things are vying for the meagerly enhanced resources available to society, according to Gates. And not many people are willing to suffer more as a result of climatic needs.

According to Gates, the solution is developing superior technical substitutes where it is equally as expensive or less expensive to get the same result in a climate-conscious manner. The “green premium,” as described by Gates, is the difference in price between doing something traditionally and doing it in a way that reduces carbon emissions. According to Gates, this green premium needs to be gradually lowered and finally removed in all spheres of the economy in order to have a significant impact on climate change.

Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Bill Gates’ investment company, invests in early-stage firms that are trying to develop new methods of producing goods or new ways of doing things in an effort to reduce the price premium associated with going green.

Gates made a suggestion during the interview that Breakthrough Energy Ventures would raise a third fund before the end of the year to continue funding and hasten the growth of these climate entrepreneurs. Additionally, he said it’s conceivable that Breakthrough Energy will raise funds to invest in later-stage businesses as well. “I still think we’ll be able to raise the money,” he told Rathi, “even though the ebullience in investing in IT and climate startups is down a little bit.”

Importantly, moving away from fossil fuels is not necessarily a straight line on the road to decarbonization. The Ukraine conflict and Europe’s efforts to lessen its reliance on Russian energy have demonstrated that bigger decarbonization ambitions for the benefit of human welfare may experience brief obstacles.

I love it when people tell me, “Hey, we appreciate your climate thing, because we can tell Putin we don’t need him. Yes, after ten years, I reply. Tell him you don’t need him by calling him,'” Gates advised.

The European Union could have to rely on fossil fuels in the interim.Should coal plants be restarted? Probably. These pragmatic considerations are significant. Should the gas field in those Netherlands be reopened? Could be. A difficult set of trade-offs must be made. Very surprising,” Gates remarked. “In the near term, you simply have to find any answer, even if it increases emissions. It is best if the battle ends quickly. However, there are several factors to take into account when ending it.

But in the long run, according to Gates, the only workable option is to create new methods to support people. I’m not using climate as a justification for a crusade, I’m looking at what the world needs to do to get to zero, he added.