U.S Microsoft billionaire, Bill Gates, has recently announced he will be contributing roughly $1 billion USD to ‘high-risk’ renewable energy projects while also standing by his previous statements that fossil fuel divestment is not the answer to global warming. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, directed by Gates and his wife, plans to donate the money incrementally over the next 5 years in an effort to stimulate the renewable energy technology industry and encourage innovation.
Bill Gates heavily invested renewable and fossil industries
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the world’s largest charitable organisation and has long supported the renewable energy industry. Despite this, the foundation’s most recent tax filing show that they also currently have 1.4 billion invested in fossil fuel companies such as BP.
In March 2015, the Guardian launched the original ‘Keep it in the ground’ campaign calling on the Gates’ Foundation and the Wellcome Trust to divest in coal, oil and gas companies. The Guardian has since revamped their campaign but state that they remain strongly in support of divestment from all fossil fuels.
Even with 223,000 people signing up to the campaign and over 220 institutions worldwide divesting from fossil fuels, Bill Gates has dismissed calls of divestment claiming that it would have little impact.
Renewable energy innovation essential to combating to climate change
Bill Gates instead insisting that there is an urgent need for innovation within the renewable energy industry and that current clean energy capabilities would not be sufficient to meet the projected 2030 global needs.
In an interview with U.S. magazine the Atlantic, Bill Gates criticised the global divestment movement that has 2.6 trillion dollar be pulled from the coal, oil and gas industry.
“If you think divestment alone is a solution, I worry you’re taking whatever desire people have to solve this problem and kind of using up their idealism and energy on something that won’t emit less carbon – because only a few people in society are the owners of the equity of coal or oil companies,” he said. “As long as there’s no carbon tax and that stuff is legal, everybody should be able to drive around.”
Bill Gates also suggesting to the Financial Times that the only way current renewable technology could support energy needs is at an exponential cost and that the only sustainable and realistic way forward is through ‘high risk’ clean energy innovation.
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Photo courtesy of OnInnovation on Flickr