- Bill Gates explains in his new book why getting down to net-zero carbon emissions is so critical
- Carbon capture and storage is a proposed solution for decreasing the 51 billion tons of greenhouse gases (GHG)
- His expanded network of philanthropic programs included a venture fund that invests in promising technology companies
On February 16th, Bill Gates published his new book called How to Avoid a Climate Disaster The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need. The book is a technology-centered plan for avoiding a climate change catastrophe. While reading it, one might feel like they’re taken on a journey.
How To Avoid A Climate Disaster
He starts with why we need to get to net-zero – the only sensible goal and the 51 billion tons of greenhouse gases that people create every year. In chapter 3, Gates explains some of the confusing statistics. He offers people how to have an informed conversation about climate change. He also sets out a spreadsheet breaking down the 51 billion tons of GHG emissions into sectors by the size of their footprints. Gates works his way from electricity, manufacturing, and agriculture to transportation and buildings. Then he suggests how we can achieve net-zero in those sectors by 2050.
Increasing renewables and cutting fossil fuels stays in the cornerstone of his strategy. That would account for roughly 27% of the reduction needed in emissions. One important measure is capturing emissions across the entire energy, transport, and manufacturing sectors before they are released back to the atmosphere. Then comes storing them deep underground or in long-lived products like concrete. The CO2 could also be combined with calcium to produce limestone that could replace concrete.
Gates proposes ways to increase investments in other solutions. Some of them are nuclear fusion and nuclear fission, sea-based carbon removal to de-acidify the oceans, and direct air capture. He is also investing in Breakthrough Energy. This is a venture capital fund devoted to climate innovation technologies like carbon capture and storage, plant-based burgers “that will lead the world to net-zero emissions.” He is even transparent about his high carbon emissions from using private jets and owning a big house. However, Gates shows devotion to cutting his family emissions to net-zero.
How To Avoid A Climate Disaster is an example of looking at this big issue from a scientific and technological angle rather than a political and populistic one. It’s a useful read for those who need a primer in net-zero efforts across the world, but it can also be valuable to those with some knowledge or experience in them.