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Bill Gates says chances of meeting 2°C warming goal fading fast

Bill Gates says chances of meeting 2°C warming goal fading fast
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 1: In this handout image supplied by COP28, Bill Gates attends the Leaders' Event: Transforming Food Systems in the face of Climate Change at Al Waha Theatre during the UN Climate Change Conference COP28 at Expo City Dubai on December 1, 2023 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The COP28, which is running from November 30 through December 12, brings together stakeholders, including international heads of state and other leaders, scientists, environmentalists, indigenous peoples representatives, activists and others to discuss and agree on the implementation of global measures towards mitigating the effects of climate change. (Photo by Christophe Viseux / COP28 via Getty Images)

Bill Gates said the world probably won’t meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of keeping temperature rise below 2°C. But he praised COP28 for making progress on tackling climate change despite geopolitical tensions.

“Climate progress is moving ahead even though we won’t meet our highest aspirations,” he said in a Bloomberg TV interview at the annual United Nations meeting in Dubai, citing the biggest-ever attendance and new food and health initiatives.

Keeping warming to 2°C “isn’t that likely,” he said. “Fortunately, if you stay below 3°C, a lot of the ill effects that people have heard about don’t happen unless you really are irresponsible and let it get up to the higher range.”

A planet that warms by 3°C from pre-industrial levels could regularly expose up to 50 million people to temperatures that are beyond human survivability, a 2018 study in Lancet Planetary Health showed. New York City might experience three once-in-a-century flooding events every year while as many as 52 times more people would face dangerous heat in African cities. The amount of land destroyed by wildfires globally would double and the Amazon rainforest would turn into grassland.

In the Paris pact, nearly 200 countries agreed to limit global temperatures to well below 2°, ideally to 1.5°C, to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. But a recent report by the UN’s environment program shows the world is instead on track to warm up to 2.9°C with current country-level emissions reduction plans.

Climate scientists consistently stress that there’s no safe level of global warming, pointing to how dangerous impacts are already playing out in every corner of the globe today when global average temperatures have risen 1.2°C from the pre-industrial era. Just this year alone, the warmest on record, a string of brutal wildfires, floods and extreme heat have claimed lives and reshaped communities.

Gates cited nuclear fusion and fission as well as green steel as being among the solutions he’s optimistic about. The Microsoft Corp. co-founder, who invests in dozens of clean-technology companies through Breakthrough Energy Ventures, said that meetings on the sidelines of COP28 are crucial for startups to get exposure to large players in industries that need to decarbonize, such as cement.

This year’s summit, hosted by the oil-rich United Arab Emirates, has faced controversy for its embrace of the fossil fuel industry. Sultan Al Jaber, the oil executive overseeing the talks, argues that they need to be engaged in the conversation. Those who want a quicker move away from dirty energy say the industry is doing far too little 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.”

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  • Louise Louise says:

    Sorry, who is Bill Gates again? Oh yes, he’s that supposed computer geek – you know, the one who didn’t create DOS or Windows. He’s not a climate scientist, doctor or physician – why does the media give this sleazy character so much publicity? He makes millions of dollars from his alleged philanthropic dealings. Ugh.

    • Ritey roo roo says:

      I agree. Who made him boss?

    • Gideon Kotzé says:

      Read about the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. He is not a climate scientist, but the foundation funds many important projects that research and work actively on poverty, disease, hunger, climate change, and inequality. As such, he is expected to be knowledgeable on the latest findings and statistics.

  • Lucia Walker says:

    I hope he didn’t fly into Dubai with his private jet!

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