Bill Gates: climate optimist.
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates deplores the delay taken by the United States in the fight against the threat of global warming during Donald Trump's four years in office. In addition to this waste of time, he considers that the preponderant place occupied by the country in this global cause has been weakened.
However, Bill Gates remains optimistic. He remains convinced that nothing has been decided yet, provided he gives himself the means. Indeed, according to him, the Biden administration can still achieve the ambitious goals of decarbonising the energy sector by 2035 and achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. For this, a plan is proving essential. A vast and difficult plan encompassing strong measures in terms of energy storage, R & D investments, carbon-free constructions, among others.
In his new book, "How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need" (Knopf) , Bill Gates outlines his ideas for tackling a disaster that experts say is causing rising temperatures, rising sea levels and natural disasters which will become more and more frequent and violent.
Bill Gates derives his optimism from the fact that a lot of progress has already been made. He takes the example of electric cars and the promising beginnings of clean energy production. Efforts must now focus on reducing the carbon footprint in the agricultural and industrial sectors, for example by developing cement and steel manufacturing processes that are both environmentally responsible and less expensive.
Through the Foundation he created with his wife, Melinda Gates, Bill Gates has donated a lot of money in the fight against global warming. But, he considers that it is not so much a problem of millions of dollars as innovations within a framework structured at the highest level of the State. The United States bears a significant responsibility for global pollution and has the capacity to implement large-scale innovation measures.
According to Bill Gates, Joe Biden will implement an eco-responsible policy and his first measures are going in the right direction. It was important to quickly join the Paris Agreement, to apply at the federal level political measures based on science, to stop drilling to achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, but all this not enough. Bill Gates is convinced that real effectiveness in this fight requires a national plan as well as substantial investments in research and development. It is urgent that each ministry that makes up the government asks itself the right questions in order to find solutions to improve manufacturing processes in their respective areas of expertise.
When it comes to Donald Trump's mandate, Bill Gates explains that the United States has just been absent for 4 years from the international scene and that nothing has changed inside the country. The situation is not worse than 4 years ago. The infrastructure is still there. By 2050, there could have been 34 years of fighting global warming. All the same, 30 remain. And despite the many American climate-skeptics, anything is possible.
Only projects resulting from the combined efforts of various government institutions and the private sector will see the light of day. Indeed, the manufacturing costs of new technologies capable of influencing climate change are extremely high, not to say prohibitive for the private sector alone. And the threat we face requires a wide range of new technologies.
Bill Gates takes the example of energy storage. According to him, betting everything on renewable energies like the sun or the wind cannot work. Indeed, how would we do when the climatic conditions on earth prevent their use and deprive us of electricity for more or less long periods? Responding to this problem requires storing gigantic amounts of electricity to continue to lead a normal life, and especially if we want to succeed in the bet of reaching zero emissions by 2050. However, today we know how to do this. for car batteries but not in such large quantities. Therefore, unless we find a miraculous solution, we must continue to favor electricity from nuclear power plants, to the chagrin of its detractors who consider it dangerous and just as polluting because of the waste it produces.
Of course, Bill Gates is aware that all this is not without raising other problems, such as the very worrying one concerning economies based on the exploitation of fossil fuels.
The answer is both political and humanitarian. Each country concerned will have thirty years before it to develop strong political measures in terms of training workers and re-qualification of jobs if the populations are to have the skills required in the face of new technologies. It goes without saying that aid from various global funds will be welcome to support these heavy transitions.