Bill Gates mentioned that it’s unlikely the world will achieve the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting temperature increase to below 2 degrees Celsius. However, he commended COP28 for making progress in addressing climate change despite geopolitical tensions.
In a Bloomberg TV interview reported by Bloomberg at the annual United Nations meeting in Dubai, Gates noted that “Climate progress is moving ahead even though we won’t meet our highest aspirations,” there is still progress. He highlighted the record attendance at COP28 and the introduction of new initiatives related to food and health.
Bill Gates’ Concerns and Global Warming’s Impact
Gates expressed skepticism about achieving the 2-degree Celsius target but mentioned that if we can keep the temperature increase below 3 degrees Celsius, many of the harmful effects associated with climate change may be avoided, unless there is irresponsible behavior that allows it to go even higher.
A study in Lancet Planetary Health from 2018 revealed that if the planet warms by 3 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels, around 50 million people could regularly face temperatures that are too extreme for human survival. This could lead to New York City experiencing three flooding events per year that are typically expected only once in a century.
Additionally, African cities might see a significant increase in the number of people exposed to dangerous heat, and global wildfire destruction would double, turning the Amazon rainforest into grassland.
The Paris Agreement, signed by almost 200 countries, aims to keep global temperatures well below 2 degrees Celsius and ideally limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.
However, a recent report from the UN’s environment program indicates that the world is currently on track to warm up to 2.9 degrees Celsius, based on existing country-level plans for reducing emissions.
Climate scientists consistently stated that there is no safe level of global warming. They point out that harmful impacts are already evident worldwide, with global average temperatures having risen by 1.2 degrees Celsius from the pre-industrial era. In this year alone, which is the warmest on record, communities have experienced devastating wildfires, floods, and extreme heat that have claimed lives and altered landscapes.
Bill Gates’ Positive Outlook
Bill Gates mentioned that he is hopeful about solutions like nuclear fusion and fission, as well as green steel. As the co-founder of Microsoft Corp. and an investor in numerous clean-technology companies through Breakthrough Energy Ventures, he said the importance of meetings during COP28 for startups to connect with major players in industries needing to reduce carbon emissions, such as the cement industry.
This year’s summit, hosted by the oil-rich United Arab Emirates, has stirred controversy for its association with the fossil fuel industry. Sultan Al Jaber, the oil executive overseeing the talks, argues that involving the fossil fuel industry in the conversation is essential.
However, those advocating for a quicker transition away from dirty energy argue that the industry is not doing enough to shift to alternatives.
“We have to outcompete fossil fuels,” Gates said. “To do that properly, they shouldn’t get subsidies and in fact a carbon tax over time should be put on.”
Bill Gates acknowledges the challenge of achieving the Paris Agreement’s goals but praises COP28’s progress in climate change despite global tensions. Expressing skepticism about the 2-degree target, he highlights the importance of staying below 3 degrees to avert severe consequences. Gates remains hopeful, stating the need for innovative solutions and advocating for a transition away from fossil fuels.