Bill Gates will keep flying in private jets, campaigning on climate change — because he's 'part of the solution.' Here are the 3 actions he wants you to take

·5 min read
Bill Gates will keep flying in private jets, campaigning on climate change — because he's 'part of the solution.' Here are the 3 actions he wants you to take
Bill Gates will keep flying in private jets, campaigning on climate change — because he's 'part of the solution.' Here are the 3 actions he wants you to take

Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has been a vocal advocate for addressing climate change. But like many of the ultra-rich, he also travels in a private jet, which emits quite a bit of greenhouse gas.

Does that mean he’s a hypocrite? BBC journalist Amol Rajan confronted Gates with the question in a February interview.

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“What do you say to the charge that if you are a climate change campaigner, but you also travel around the world in a private jet, you’re a hypocrite?” Rajan asked bluntly.

“Well, I buy the gold standard of, funding Climeworks, to do direct air capture that far exceeds my family’s carbon footprint,” Gates replied. “And I spend billions of dollars on climate innovation. So you know, should I stay at home and not come to Kenya and learn about farming and malaria?”

“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'm part of the solution,” the Microsoft co-founder added.

Of course, you don’t need to be a billionaire to help fight climate change. In his book How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, Gates detailed the actions that we, as consumers, can take to move humanity closer to a zero-carbon future.

Here’s a look at three of them.

Reduce your carbon footprint at home

Gates suggests that you can lower your home’s emissions by making it more energy efficient.

“Depending on how much money and time you can spare, you can replace your incandescent lightbulbs with LEDs, install a smart thermostat, insulate your windows, buy efficient appliances, or replace your heating and cooling system with a heat pump (as long as you live in a climate where they can operate),” he writes.

In fact, there are benefits to doing this even beyond saving the environment.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, LED bulbs consume up to 90% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and can last up to 25 times longer. The department estimates that by switching to LED lighting, the average household can save about $225 in energy costs per year.

Sealing and insulating is another strategy that can lower your carbon footprint – and utility bills. We all know that conditioning is a big part of why energy bills are high in the summer. So you don’t want that nice cool air in your house to escape — or that hot, humid summer air to enter.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that by air sealing your house and adding insulation, homeowners can save about 15% on heating and cooling costs, or an average of 11% on their total energy costs.

You can use caulk for cracks and openings around door and window frames. You can also try weatherstripping to seal movable components such as doors and windows.

Read more: UBS says 61% of millionaire collectors allocate up to 30% of their overall portfolio to this exclusive asset class

Drive an electric vehicle

Compared to vehicles powered by internal combustion engines, EVs have zero tailpipe emissions. So it’s no surprise that they have gotten Gates’ attention.

“Although they might not be right for everyone (they’re not great for lots of long-distance road trips, and charging at home isn’t convenient for everyone), they’re becoming more affordable for many consumers,” he writes.

Gates explains that consumer behavior can change the supply side of things: “If people buy lots of them, companies will make lots of them.”

He would be glad to see that EVs have indeed been gaining popularity in America. In 2022, sales of fully electric vehicles totaled 807,180 in the U.S., making up 5.8% of all cars sold, an increase from 3.2% in 2021, according to market research firm Motor Intelligence.

Investors have also embraced this trend. EV giant Tesla commands a market cap of over $590 billion, which is several times bigger than Ford and General Motors combined.

Try fake meat

We are seeing more than more plant-based protein products on store shelves these days. Gates suggests you try them, even though they might not taste as good as real meat.

“I’ll admit that veggie burgers haven’t always tasted great, but the new generation of plant-based protein alternatives is better and closer to the taste and texture of meat than their predecessors.”

People choose plant-based protein for a variety of reasons, including health concerns, and ethical and environmental considerations. Gates points to the environmental aspect.

“Eating a meat substitute (or simply not eating meat) just once or twice a week will cut down on the emissions you’re responsible for,” he writes, adding that “the same goes for dairy products.”

As with electric cars, Gates believes that purchasing plant-based protein products “sends a clear message that making them is a wise investment.”

But investors might not be thrilled about this sector at the moment. Beyond Meat, a leading plant-based meat company, saw its net revenue decline 22.5% year over year in Q3 of its fiscal 2022. Shares have plunged 70% over the last 12 months.

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This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.