Finding a solution to the problem of climate change facing the world today is the hardest thing humanity has ever done, American entrepreneur and philanthropist Bill Gates said on Saturday.
"It is harder than the moon landing which actually worked," Gates said while addressing the audience at the India Today Conclave 2021.
The 65-year-old founder of Microsoft said that innovation is the only way the world can get through climate change. "Without technology breakthroughs, it's too expensive and the world will have a tough time thinking should the rich countries that have done the emissions historically, should they fund all of this? How do we convince everyone you have to take pain now to gain later? The rich countries could build smaller houses or travel a bit less but if you take the world as a whole where they're now getting at the level of basic living size and transport, the idea of reducing consumption is not going to work. That would be impossible to do," he said.
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Gates said that the solution to climate change is not to build fewer buildings or have a lesser number of cars but to be able to do all of that in a clean way.
Gates, who is also coming up with his latest book titled 'How to avoid a climate disaster', said that if we don't do anything about it, the poor will suffer the most.
"One of the challenges that India is facing is that the temperatures in some parts of the country will be very high. Only through massive innovation are we going to be able to solve it. We have about 10 years to invent everything and about 20 years to roll it out to hit that goal of zero, down from 51 billion by 2015," he said.
Gates said that his work in Africa 10 years ago made him realise the effects of climate change. "It was my work in Africa for the Gates Foundation where we worked on nutrition and health when it started. What we were seeing was that the climate was already making farming near the equator far more difficult. Climate was going to hold us back and force us to do the whole economy in a different way. I felt I needed to know that, so I spent around 10 years starting in 2000 learning about that," he said.
Today, he adds, the awareness about climate change is much more than any other time in the past. "We need to decarbonise 70% of the world economy."
"For climate change, you have to start the work to stop the emissions now to stop the disaster later because the scale is so big and the number of activities that create these emissions are so broad. Particularly for countries near the equator that includes India, the effects over the course of the century will be very dramatic," he said.
The path to salvation, he adds, is huge innovations including things like clean hydrogen or scaling up electric cars or electric trucks to a super-high level.
"It's great that electric cars are starting to catch on. It's still a very small percentage of the market but as batteries become cheaper for cars of all sizes and the government will push them with tax credits and that will encourage the market to shift. Likewise, for making electricity, the cost of wind and solar have come down. India is also installing large amounts of solar and those are two areas of progress that scaling is very hard in next 30 years," he said.
Gates, through his company 'Breakthrough Energy', is investing a lot in companies that try to develop a technology-based solution to climate change.
"Not a whole lot of companies but only 2-3 inventions will solve the entire problem and enable all countries to get to zero," he said.
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