Microsoft co-founder Billl Gates sais the target of limiting limiting temperature increases to 1.5C could not be met as ‘there’s no comparable feat that mankind has ever achieved’
The world will miss the target of limiting temperature increases to 1.5C, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates warned as he stressed the need to drive down the cost of green technology.
The Microsoft co-founder said he doubted that the 1.5C goal could be met as “there’s no comparable feat that mankind has ever achieved” to the task of tackling climate change.
Mr Gates said the cost of subsidising middle-income countries including China and India to develop in an environmentally-friendly way would be too great, so instead wealthy nations had to drive down the “green premium” for cleaner technology to make it affordable to all.
In an interview with former foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, for the Policy Exchange think tank, Mr Gates said: “What happened with solar panels where they were very expensive, and now they’re cheap, or lithium ion batteries – we need to do that for about six other technologies.”
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Highlighting green steel, cheap hydrogen and offshore wind power as areas for development, Mr Gates said “it does require lots of money” and “we will have to see rapid innovation”.
“It’s all a matter of degrees, so to speak. That is, hitting 2.5C is better than hitting 3C, hitting 2C’s better than hitting 2.5C.”
But the 1.5C goal “will be very difficult” and “I doubt that we’ll be able to achieve that”.
Keeping the 1.5C goal alive is one of the key aims of the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow.
One of the other key aims of the summit is to secure 100 billion US dollars (£73.4 billion) of climate finance from wealthier nations to help poorer countries develop in a cleaner way.
Mr Gates said 65% of the world’s population lived in middle-income countries, including China and India.
“They are key to climate. Most of the emissions in the world come from middle-income countries.
“And so the rich countries have to do two things: we have to get rid of our own emissions. But we also – because we have the majority of all the innovation power, the great universities, the risk capital, that’s in the rich countries – (we have) the innovation to reduce the cost of green products, what I call the green premium.”
Rich nations could not tell India to build half as many homes by forcing it to use green cement which costs twice as much, he said.
“We have to make that green premium either very small, like less than 10%, or actually zero.”
He added: “We cannot afford to subsidise the green premiums to the middle income countries. That would be trillions of dollars.
“For the low income countries that are about 3% or 4% of emissions – yes, it is possible that you could step up there, but we need to make it easy enough that India decides to participate.”
Mr Gates praised the UK’s efforts to go green, giving it a “very good grade on climate progress”.