Bill Gates Says ‘Brute Force’ Climate Policies Won’t Work

Bill Gates, the multibillionaire founder of Microsoft, argued for a pragmatic, technology-driven approach to fighting climate change on Thursday.

“If you try to do climate brute force, you will get people who say, ‘I like climate but I don’t want to bear that cost and reduce my standard of living,’” Mr. Gates said at the Climate Forward event hosted by The New York Times. “Without innovation, it’s unlikely, particularly in middle-income countries, that the brute force approach will be successful.”

Mr. Gates also said winning more bipartisan support was needed in order for policy to actually stick. “Republicans for climate change action are gold, you know,” he said. “That’s got to be a number that somehow we manage to increase over time.”

“You can’t have a climate policy that when one party is in charge goes full speed ahead and stops cold,” he added. “These are 30-year investments in steel factories, new ways of making meat.”

Mr. Gates, who in recent weeks has espoused an everything-will-be-fine approach to the climate crisis, was asked whether he could reconcile that stance with the reality of extreme weather around the globe.

“I’m the person who is doing the most on climate in terms of the innovation and how we can square multiple goals,” said Mr. Gates, a co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a major donor to health- and climate-related causes. “There’s very limited money for causes to reduce inequity in the world. And no temperate country is going to become uninhabitable.”

Instead, he said, he is taking a more pragmatic approach and drawing a line at untested remedies like planting a trillion trees.

“Are we the science people or are we the idiots?” he said. “Which one do we want to be?”

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