Bill Gates joined us at TechCrunch Sessions: Climate 2022 last week to discuss his priorities in terms of investment projects and technological breakthroughs needed to effectively address climate change. Gates provided an updated picture of where we’re at compared to the context in which he wrote and published his 2021 book, “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster.”
Gates started off by providing his thoughts on the relative performance metrics of the world as it faced another global threat — the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic:
Well, the pandemic — it’s very easy. It’s 1,000 times easier to stop things from becoming pandemics than it is to solve climate change. And you have some countries who have less than 10% of the deaths of, say, the U.S. Yeah, so the U.S. was expected to do the best, and we did a terrible job. We didn’t diagnose people early … in the first 100 days we’d let it become widespread. Whereas people like Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, a bunch of exemplars got into action, even though they spend way, way less money on their public health systems.
The framing of the pandemic as a far “easier” challenge to address than climate change would seem to indicate a degree of pessimism about our chances, but Gates then pointed out the progress in certain areas that has occurred since he hosted a site gathering at the 2015 global climate talks in Paris. That led to the formation of Breakthrough Energy, the umbrella organization founded by Gates to foster climate action in a number of ways, including through its venture subsidiary, Breakthrough Energy Ventures: