Need to eliminate global emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050: Bill Gates

Software-developer-turned-philanthropist,Bill Gates considers himself a realist – even if that means admitting the world has no chance limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Given “the overall scale of our industrial economy … we’re going to have to do mind-blowing work to stay below 2 degrees,” he said. Bill Gates nevertheless upbeat about climate innovation – ticking off numerous areas advancing low-carbon technologies with funding from the Breakthrough Energy Group, which Gates founded in 2015.

Better buildings can help with climate change.

Bill Gates summed up that the solution to climate change in two sentences: We need to eliminate global emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050. Extreme weather is already causing more suffering, and if we don’t get to net-zero emissions, our grandchildren will grow up in a world that is dramatically worse off.

He summed up the challenge in two sentences: Getting to zero will be the hardest thing humans have ever done. We need to revolutionize the entire physical economy—how we make things, move around, produce electricity, grow food, and stay warm and cool—in less than three decades.

“We’re much further along than I would have predicted a few years ago on getting companies to invest in zero-carbon breakthroughs.”

Public funding for climate-related research and development has increased by almost a third since the Paris climate summit in 2015. This year, the U.S. adopted climate-related laws that together provide more than $500 billion for the energy transition. This money will unlock far more in private investments and spur hundreds of new clean-energy projects.

Private funding for clean energy is also increasing dramatically. In the past two years, venture capital firms have put approximately $70 billion into clean-energy startups. The climate-focused investment fund I helped launch, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, now has more than 100 companies in its portfolio.

Buildings are a surprisingly large source of emissions. The energy they use for air conditioning, heating, lights, and so on is responsible for nearly 14% of all greenhouse gases. And buildings waste a lot of energy: Because of inefficient windows and gaps in what’s known as the building envelope, as much as 40% of heated or cooled air leaks out of the typical building.

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