The Microsoft co-founder contested that he is 'part of the solution' to addressing climate change
Billionare philanthropist Bill Gates argued that it's not hypocritical for him to travel by private jet while simultaneously trying to fight climate change.
"What do you say to the charge that if you are a climate change campaigner, but you also travel around the world on a private jet, you're a hypocrite," BBC's Amol Rajan asked Gates during an interview in Kenya last week.
The co-founder of Microsoft – a fierce advocate for fighting climate
change — said he isn't the problem. Rather, he contends he is the
solution given all his efforts to address this issue, in part, though
investing billions in climate technologies.
Bill Gates attends the World Leaders' Summit "Accelerating Clean
Technology Innovation and Deployment" session on day three of COP26 on
November 02, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland.
"Well I, by the gold standard of, funding Climeworks, to do direct air capture that far exceeds my family's carbon footprint," Gates replied.
Climeworks is a Swiss company that uses direct air capture (DAC) technology to fight climate change. The company said on its website that it "captures CO₂ directly from the air, reducing the atmospheric concentration of CO₂ by only using renewable energy, energy-from-waste, or other waste heat as energy sources."
Last year, it became Microsoft's first long-term carbon removal supplier.
The billionaire continued saying he spends "billions of dollars on climate innovation."
"I'm comfortable with the idea that not only am I not part of the problem by paying for the offsets, but also through the billions that my Breakthrough Energy group is spending, that I am part of the solution," he said.
Breakthrough Energy was founded by Gates in 2015. According to its website, Breakthough Energy funds "work on the actual climate technologies our world will need to meaningfully reduce emissions" and brings public and private sectors together "to accelerate market formation, spur further innovation, and reduce Green Premiums."
It also advocated for "public policies that will give new technologies a chance in the marketplace, incentivize investment in carbon-reduction technologies, and drive down clean technology costs," the website continues.
According to Reuters, Gates has already invested over $2 billion toward climate technologies. This includes investments in direct air capture in addition to solar energy and nuclear fission.
However, according to the World Wildlife Fund, air travel is still currently considered "the most carbon intensive activity an individual can make."
"Aviation is one of the fastest-growing sources of the greenhouse gas emissions driving global climate change," the World Wildlife Fund's website reads. "In fact, if the entire aviation sector were a country, it would be one of the top 10 carbon-polluting nations on the planet."
Private jets are 5 to 14 times more polluting per passenger than commercial planes, according to a report from the European Federation for Transport and Environment.
One private jet can emit two tonnes of CO₂ within an hour, according to the report.