Bill Gates admits his ‘large carbon footprint’ makes him a ‘strange person’ to pressure others – as he plugs climate-change book

Microsoft founder Bill Gates has admitted his private jet and billionaire lifestyle make him a “strange person” to advocate against climate change, but insists he’s doing his part bankrolling obscure tech years away from adoption.

While Gates acknowledged his critics had good reason to question why a man with “the biggest carbon footprint west of the Mississippi” was “preaching” to them about climate change, the software magnate-turned climate crusader insisted he was sincere about trying to shrink even his own massive consumption levels.

In a chummy discussion with MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough on Tuesday, Gates was asked warm and fuzzy versions of some of the questions he’s gotten from the political right and left, taking the opportunity to puff up his new book “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster,” published on Tuesday.

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The tech tycoon stressed that he was moderating his own hyperconsumption by buying “green aviation fuel” and paying for “direct air capture” to stop his private jet and other costly indulgences from being such a burden on the planet. However, his protestations aren’t necessarily reflective of the wider industry – “green” fuels represented less than 0.1 percent of all aviation fuel by 2018, and just five airports regularly offered biofuel distribution by the following year, even as the industry hopes to cut carbon emissions in half (from 2005 levels) by 2050. 

While Gates lacks any credentials in climate science (or indeed any academic credentials at all, not having graduated from college), his prodigious financial resources have earned him entrée into essentially any industry he takes an interest in – and the force to exert his influence over whoever works in that industry.

Thus, while Gates repeatedly stressed that the country “needed” certain “breakthroughs” – by 2050 at the latest – regarding renewable electricity in order to avoid the predicted “climate catastrophe,” he suggested that relying on government to implement these breakthroughs was a recipe for disaster. The private sector would have to take an end run around government in order to ensure any policies put in place under one party wouldn’t just be stripped out by the other party four years later, he argued.

Gates couldn’t resist hinting at his ‘prediction’ of the Covid-19 pandemic again, either, warning that if the world didn’t listen to him on climate change, countries would be caught unawares in the same manner they had been when the coronavirus epidemic hit. Solving Covid-19 was “easy” compared to fighting climate change, Gates told the BBC last week.

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MSNBC began life as a joint venture between Microsoft and NBC, and while the software giant sold its 50 percent interest in the network in 2012, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation continued to make hefty donations to its parent company NBCUniversal, including $1 million that same year for “special projects,” another $1.34 million in 2013, and $2.03 million in 2010 for “global policy and advocacy.” 

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