Bill Gates says that green technologies need to get cheap enough so that every country can use them. Episode 3 of Zero, a new podcast from Bloomberg Green, is now available to listen to.
Bill Gates is getting ready to raise a new fund for Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) to support innovative climate startups. This comes on the heels of two billion-dollar funds that have helped finance about 100 companies.
The World Can’t Tackle the Climate Crisis
Gates said on the latest episode of Bloomberg Green’s podcast, Zero, “Even though the excitement about investing in tech and climate companies has died down a bit, I still think we’ll be able to raise the money.” “It’s not as easy as it was, say, six months ago, but we’re looking at a new round for startups and a pool for later-stage investing under Breakthrough Energy Management.”
Even though companies like Tesla have helped make the dream of electric cars more of a reality and solar and wind power are now cheaper than fossil fuels, many of the technologies needed to reduce emissions in other areas are still in their early stages. The US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) provided $374 billion to support technologies related to energy and climate change. This money is expected to spur innovation that will help solve these problems.
Gates hopes that his work with Breakthrough will also help change the global economy in a way that brings us closer to a world with no pollution. Many of the companies in which BEV is currently investing are trying to scale up innovations in boring industries that use a lot of carbon, like low-carbon cement and steel.
“You can’t solve climate change without new ideas,” Gates said.
The co-founder of Microsoft joined Zero to talk about how BEV is helping to drive innovation as well as his work with the IRA, which was covered in more depth by Bloomberg in August. He also talked about how Europe can deal with emissions even though it is having trouble getting enough energy.
This is a version of Zero’s interview with Gates that has been cut down and edited. You can listen to and read a full transcript of the conversation below.
Akshat:In August, you said that the Inflation Reduction Act could help turn American innovations into American industries. How does it do that?
Gates:A lot of the money is for things like long-term storage, green hydrogen, better electricity transmission, direct air capture, and making cement and steel in ways that don’t release any carbon dioxide. In the beginning, a way to make cement with less pollution will cost more, which means that there is a huge “green premium.”
And to put it simply, the green premium is the cost difference between doing something in a way that releases greenhouse gases and doing the same thing in a way that doesn’t release these gases.
Gates: Yeah, The magic happens when the green premium goes to zero, so you can tell middle-income countries, which are responsible for 65% of emissions, “This new way of making cement doesn’t have a green premium.” That’s the only way to get to zero, since rich countries aren’t going to pay trillions of dollars in subsidies, and middle-income countries aren’t going to slow down in giving basic shelter to their people when they know that rich countries are to blame for past emissions.
Akshat:If I had to pick one area of technology where I’ve been shocked, amazed, or surprised by the sheer number of ideas that have come out of it, it would be carbon removal. Do you get a different answer?
Gates:I think the different innovations in farming are pretty amazing. The main idea is how food is made by nature. For example, there is money to improve the process of photosynthesis and make it work twice as well. I always thought agriculture would be the hardest, but I see a lot of things there.
Akshat:Due to high energy prices, what’s going on in Europe with the Ukraine war is going to be very bad for people. How do you think Europe should handle this while still meeting its goals for the environment?
Yes, it’s a very scary situation, says Gates. Most of the things we can do to help the environment are only good for five to ten years at best. So when people say to me, “Hey, we love your climate stuff because we can tell Putin we don’t need him,” I tell them, “Yeah, call him up in 10 years and tell him you don’t need him.” So, there are a lot of hard choices to make. very out of the blue. I think it will be good for the climate in the long run. In the short term, you have to do whatever it takes to find a solution, even if that means more pollution. And the sooner the war ends, the better, but there are many things to think about when figuring out how to end it.
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