Bill Gates says using private jets is compatible with climate change philanthropy

Bill Gates is stressed against a green background.

Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, at the Earthshot Prize Innovation Summit in New York on September 21, 2022. (Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Microsoft founder Bill Gates BBC interviewengaged in philanthropy and advocacy to address climate change, and has rejected hypocritical accusations that it emits colossal amounts of carbon dioxide when traveling in private jets.

British broadcaster Amol Rajan told Gates in an interview aired last Friday, despite urging political and business leaders to act aggressively on climate change. , asked how he would respond to criticism that he uses private planes. more than offset their own greenhouse gas emissions.

“Well, I bought the gold standard of funding Crimeworks and direct air capture that far exceeds my family’s carbon footprint,” Gates said.

Climeworks' orca direct air capture and storage facility under a collector container gray sky.

A collector container at the Orca Direct Air Recovery and Storage Facility operated by Climeworks AG, Herrsheidi, Iceland, September 7, 2021. (Arnaldur Halldorsson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Climb Works is company The company promises that one of its plants will remove as much carbon as it purchases within six years, using direct air capture, a new technology that draws carbon dioxide from the air and stores it. We sell carbon removal to businesses and other buyers. underground.

Gates argued that his own investments in clean energy and other environmental and public health programs justify him traveling for those purposes. One breakthrough energy catalyst is $15 billion invested in a clean technology project. )

“I spend billions of dollars on climate change innovation. So instead of coming to Kenya and learning about agriculture and malaria, should I stay home?” Gates asked rhetorically.

The use of private jets has recently come under scrutiny from environmental activists. ban them. The best transportation in the world 3rd largest source The impact of climate pollution after energy production and land use (e.g. agriculture and deforestation) is significant, with private jets overwhelmingly the biggest polluter per passenger mile. A study last month found that the carbon footprint from private flights to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where business and government leaders discussed the importance of combating climate change, was around 350,000 cars. equivalent to driving a petrol car once a year. week.

Private jet above the clouds.

Private jet in transit. (Getty Images)

In a 2020 blog post, Gate identified climate change as a “crisis”

“We also need to act now to avert climate disasters by building and deploying innovations that eliminate greenhouse gas emissions,” he wrote.

Gates disputes that his personal travels are part of the problem he’s trying to solve.

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

Direct air capture (DAC) remains a relatively expensive and energy-intensive process with very limited global capacity, but some climate change experts and activists Some say the price of direct air recovery will drop.and it is need to be widely deployed To avoid catastrophic climate change. The world’s largest direct air capture facility will open in his 2021 in Iceland, generating clean electricity from geothermal energy and hydroelectric power. Climeworks has invested in its Iceland factory, Orca, and is currently building another, larger factory in Iceland, which is scheduled to start operations in 2024.

In September 2022, the International Energy Agency will wrote it“Carbon removal technologies such as DAC are no substitute for reducing emissions or an excuse for delaying action, but they could be an important part of the range of technology options used to meet climate goals.” I have.”