Bill Gates exudes optimism in discussing the world’s ability to tackle climate change – until he hits on manufacturing. About that, he is worried.
There is currently no way to make steel or cement without releasing climate-warming emissions. Yet, neither governments nor investors are looking hard to solve that problem, Gates said.
“That’s the sector that bothers me the most,” Gates said in a video interview with Reuters ahead of the publication this week of his book, “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster.”
The software-developer-turned-philanthropist has invested some $2 billion toward the development of clean technologies. But those investments are in electricity generation and storage, not in manufacturing.
Manufacturing – especially in the cheap construction staples steel and cement – accounts for roughly a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. That makes manufacturing more polluting than the power or transportation sectors, which receive far more attention in policies and investments. And the manufacturing sector is set to grow, as the global population climbs and countries further develop.
“People still need basic shelter, certainly in developing countries,” said Gates, co-founder of Microsoft Corp. “It’s unlikely we’ll stop building buildings.”