Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said in a recent interview that putting an end to the Coronavirus pandemic is "very easy" when compared with solving the issues related to the global climate change crisis.
Gates has a new book out called "How to Avoid a Climate Disaster" in which the philanthropist sets out the "urgency of addressing climate change". The billionaire said that he is an "imperfect messenger" because of his wealth, houses and travel while admitting that he took a private jet to attend the 2015 Paris climate summit.
But his views on environmental issues are not different from several small Pacific nation leaders, who believe that if Coronavirus doesn't kill them climate change will, as they fear of an "environmental Armageddon".
Global Health Crisis Vs World's Environmental Issue
The billionaire told BBC News during the promotion of his book that making the world free from all the issues related to climate change would be the most "amazing thing humanity has ever done".
According to Gates, compared to the efforts and sacrifices required to anticipate a major life-threatening climate crisis, ending the COVID-19 pandemic is "very, very easy". He said: "The pandemic will come to an end because these amazing vaccines were invented in a year and we're trying to scale them up and adapt to the variance."
To fix the already damaged environment, a major global transition to renewable energy will be required, along with the changes to our way of life, said Gates while adding that there is no "precedent for this".
Gates was inspired to write his new book while focusing on the best way to bring electricity to the remotest areas of the world without building coal plants—as the current challenge is to reduce greenhouse gas to zero by 2050, said Gates.
There Will Be Critics
One of the critics, Rolf Skar at Greenpeace USA, said that Gates' book is focused on avoiding a climate disaster and the author is not doing enough to change his habits.
"His [Gates'] investment in private jets and Microsoft's AI contracts with Exxon, Chevron and BP to extract more fossil fuels are adding to the crisis. Billionaires like Mr. Gates need to lead by example or they won't be taken seriously," added Skar.
But Gates believes that asking people to change their way of life is not the key idea here. Combination of new technology, regulation and market forces should be the solution, said the billionaire. He told the BBC that a focus on technology could help to reach that target and renewable sources such as solar and wind can help decarbonize electricity.
He said that the governments around the world also need to lead efforts to create new global innovation on a very large scale. Currently, no one pays for any environmental damage caused by pollutants in fossil fuels and according to Gates, this needs to be changed. "We need to have price signals to tell the private sector that we want green products," he added.
If the governments don't work globally to reduce emissions and support green technology, Gates said that it will be "impossible" to avoid disaster from climate change. There needs to be a continuous 30-year push from governments, as well as businesses to address the issues as the business cannot change infrastructure unless market signals are constant and clear.
However, many critics point finger at Gates' lifestyle when he opens up about the climate crisis. The billionaire has been living a luxurious life—he still travels by private jet and has nice houses. But Gates said that he has changed how he does it. His jets don't use fossil fuels, rather these are now powered by biofuels.