In his new book "How to Avoid a Climate Disaster,” Bill Gates lays out a 30-year plan to change our behavior from how we manufacture concrete to what we eat as part of a make-or-break effort to save the planet.
President Joe Biden has “picked the right people” to oversee many of these efforts, the former Microsoft (MSFT) CEO told Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer as part of a wide-ranging interview on Wednesday.
Gates specifically mentioned White House National Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy and U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, both of whom occupy positions that didn’t exist in previous administrations. He also called out Brian Deese, the new Director of the National Economic Council, who's focusing on climate change.
Gates says he’s also spoken to Biden several times recently. “The two topics we talked about were pandemic — ending this one and avoiding the next one — and then also climate change,” he said.
The administration’s efforts on the issue are now “really coming into focus,” Gates said.
‘It's really about China and India’
In November, the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties in Glasgow will bring countries together to accelerate efforts like the Paris Agreement, which the U.S. recently rejoined. The meeting “will be very, very important,” Gates says.
He specifically highlighted the global role that former Secretary of State Kerry will play in the coming years when it comes to convincing the rest of the world to sign on to the effort.
“It's really about China and India,” Gates said, regarding what’s needed to turn the corner globally on matters like coal burning. China has laid out a goal of the year 2060 to become carbon neutral. India has not made a similar commitment but Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreed to work together on climate change and other issues during a recent call with Biden.
‘A lot of delegated authority’
On the domestic side, the Biden administration’s efforts are being led by former Environmental Protection Agency head Gina McCarthy. During a recent Yahoo Finance interview, McCarthy discussed some upcoming administration initiatives, specifically a climate-focused infrastructure bill Biden has promised to unveil in the coming weeks.
“His future is built on clean energy,” she said of the president. “His future is built on recognizing where the jobs of today and the future are and how do we use that leverage to actually restore our economic growth but also address the challenge of climate change.”
McCarthy also serves as chair of the new National Climate Task Force and recently convened a meeting where leaders from 21 federal agencies across the new administration pledged to make climate a part of their mission.
Gates was enthusiastic that Biden has given his team free rein to move forward on various initiatives. In his new book, Gates calls for a range of government actions, including new money to help research technological breakthroughs and new policies to make companies pay a price for carbon emissions.
During the interview, Yahoo Finance directly asked McCarthy whether Biden would ever propose a so-called carbon tax. “I think there are many ways in which we could put a price on carbon," she answered.
Ben Werschkul is a writer and producer for Yahoo Finance in Washington, DC.