Bill Gates is no stranger to progressive thinking. The philanthropic
foundation he runs with his wife, Melinda, has backed everything from longer-lasting pill-based contraception to a process whereby human waste can be converted into safe, drinkable water. Most of their efforts are focused on improving conditions for the world’s poor in markets often neglected by private sector corporations and government aid.
Bill Gates has announced that he will be doubling his personal investments in clean energy technology over the next five years. Taking his total stake to a whopping
US$2 billion in renewable energy production and research, Gates argues that the time is right because he believes that the next five years will see major advancements in technology and initiatives that will help ‘solve’ climate change.
Despite the size of Gates’s personal funding for clean technologies, he acknowledges it’s a drop in the ocean compared to the investments and decisions made by governments around the world, prompting him to make the case for why a carbon-free future is a realistic and worthwhile commercial goal.
Gates lays out a three-step model on his blog for how the countries of the world can achieve this ambitious target. Firstly, he says we need to create incentives
for innovation by "drastically increasing government funding for research on clean energy solutions”. Second, we need to develop markets that help get to zero carbon emissions, with models that more accurately recognise the full impact of emitting carbon (including health and environmental factors). Finally, Gates says we need to treat poor countries fairly. Acknowledging that some climate change is inevitable, he advocates richer countries need to help poorer countries adapt to the world’s changing environmental conditions.