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Bill Gates says private jet use doesn’t conflict with climate change philanthropy

Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, speaks at the Earthshot Prize Innovation Summit in New York, U.S., Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022. (Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Bill Gates says private jet use doesn't conflict with climate change philanthropy

Microsoft founder Bill Gates has dismissed accusations of hypocrisy for engaging in philanthropy and advocacy to fight climate change while creating outsized carbon emissions when he travels by private jet in the one broadcast last Friday.

British broadcaster Amol Rajan asked Gates how he responds to criticism that he uses a private jet, even as he urged political and business leaders to act aggressively on climate change. Gates replied that he more than offsets his own greenhouse gas emissions by paying for the removal of carbon dioxide – the most prevalent greenhouse gas causing global warming – from the atmosphere.

“Well, I’m buying the gold standard of funding from Climeworks, to do direct air capture that far exceeds my family’s carbon footprint,” Gates said.

Collecting containers at Orca's direct air capture and storage facility, operated by Climeworks AG, in Hellisheidi, Iceland, Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021. (Arnaldur Halldorsson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Collecting containers at Orca’s direct air capture and storage facility, operated by Climeworks AG, in Hellisheidi, Iceland, Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021. (Arnaldur Halldorsson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Climeworks sells carbon removal to individuals, businesses and other buyers with the promise that one of its factories will remove the amount of carbon purchased within six years, using direct air capture – a new technology in which CO2 is sucked out of the air and stored underground.

Gates went on to say that his own investment in clean energy and other environmental and public health programs justified his trip for these purposes. (Last year, Breakthrough Energy Catalyst, a Gates-backed fund, announced it would contribute to clean technology projects.)

“I spend billions of dollars on…climate innovation. So, you know, should I stay home and not come to Kenya and learn about agriculture and malaria?” Gates asked rhetorically.

The use of private jets has recently come under scrutiny from environmental activists, some of whom are calling on nations to . Transportation is the world of climate pollution after energy production and land use (like agriculture and deforestation) and private jets are far and away the mile per passenger. Last month, a study estimated that the carbon emissions from private flights to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland – where business and government leaders spoke about the importance of climate action – were equivalent to put on the road for about a week.

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

In a 2020 blog post, Gate identified climate change. »

“We must also act now to avert climate catastrophe by building and deploying innovations that will enable us to eliminate our greenhouse gas emissions,” he wrote.

Gates disputes that his personal journey makes him part of the problem he seeks to solve.

“Not only am I not part of the problem paying the offsets, but also through the billions my Breakthrough Energy Group is spending…I am part of the solution,” he told the BBC.

Direct air capture, or DAC, is still a relatively expensive and energy-intensive process, with very limited global capacity, but some climate change experts and activists say direct air capture will come down in price – like l solar energy, for example – and it will prevent catastrophic climate change. Opening of the largest direct air capture facility in the world, where electricity is produced cleanly from hydroelectricity. Climeworks has invested in Orca, the factory in Iceland, and is currently building another larger factory – due to go live in 2024 – also in Iceland.

In September 2022, the International Energy Agency, “Carbon removal technologies such as DAC are not an alternative to reducing emissions or an excuse to delay action, but they can be a part important part of the suite of technology options used to achieve climate goals”.


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