Microsoft founder Bill Gates has said that he is optimistic about tackling climate change – but only if concrete action is taken to reduce global emissions and governments ensure clean and reliable energy is prioritised.
In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Gates said that climate change was certainly one of the most urgent issues that needed to be addressed, along with health and inequality.
“It’s a big challenge, but I’m not sure I would put it above everything. One of the reasons it’s hard is that by the time we see that climate change is really bad, your ability to fix it is extremely limited”, he explained.
“In order to get a 90% reduction of carbon, which is what we need, the first thing you might want to get is a year of global reduction, and we have not had that.”
He said he discussed the issue with Charles Koch, a leader in the oil industry and a prominent climate denier, who said that the US alone could not act alone.
“But you have to view the US doing something as a catalyst for getting China and others to do things. The atmosphere is the ultimate commons. We all benefit from it, and we’re all polluting it”, Gates commented.
He said he doesn’t think that renewable energy alone can help end the fossil fuels dependency, but ‘smart’ nuclear could.
“If you could make nuclear really, really safe, and deal with the economics, deal with waste, then it becomes the nirvana you want: a cheaper solution with very little CO2 emissions. If we don’t get that, you’ve got a problem”, Gates said.
He also said that the global demand for protein would become a cause for concern, because of the pressure it will put on agricultural land and the environment: “Coming up with affordable plant-based proteins, basically meat substitutes, that really taste like meat is another area that can make a big difference.”