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Bill Gates on How Business Leaders Can Fight Climate Change

Bill Gates on How Business Leaders Can Fight Climate Change

Bill Gates on "How Business Leaders Can Fight Climate Change"

Bill Gates, philanthropist and founder of Microsoft, argues that, even as we work to end the global pandemic, we can’t lose sight of another existential threat: climate change. 

Bill Gates is tone of the world’s best-known entrepreneurs and philanthropists. After founding Microsoft and leading it for 25 years, he stepped down as CEO of in 2000 to focus on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. And he and his wife have, to date, donated more than $50 billion to improve health, sanitation, financial services for the poor, and agricultural development around the world.

This is a man who works with governments, non-profits, and private organizations to try to solve massive, global problems. And, right now, in addition to the pandemic, he’s paying a lot of attention climate change. This is obviously an issue that affects all of us, from emerging market farmers to developed country CEOs. And it’s one that’s expected to create exponentially bigger challenges in the future if we don’t do something about it now.

His new book is called “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We have and the Breakthroughs We Need.” It’s written for leaders in every sector and it’s a blueprint for fixing this mess we’re in.

He recently sat down with Harvard Business Review editor-in-chief Adi Ignatius to speak about how we work together to tackle the climate crisis and other big ones, like Covid-19. Here’s their conversation.

ADI IGNATIUS: So Bill, welcome to HBR IdeaCast.

BILL GATES: Thank you.

ADI IGNATIUS: So let’s get right into it. Your call in this book, and obviously others have replicated it, is to get down to net zero carbon emissions. Your argument is to do that by 2050. Can you talk a little bit about where we are now and the magnitude of getting from where we are now to net zero?

BILL GATES: Well, if you ignore economic crises of the pandemic, we really haven’t gotten on a track to reduce emissions at all. They keep going up. To go all the way down to zero by 2050, you need to start having every year, in and out, dramatic declines. As long as you’re emitting greenhouse gases, the temperature of the earth keeps going up. It’s only when you get to zero that you can actually say, Okay, we’ve done what we need to avoid – particularly for people living in the equator, things being so hot, that they really can’t do outside work, or having the ecosystems collapse because of this rapid change in heat.

And so that goal has been broadly discussed, and add a plan that says, “Okay, where do we need to be on cement 10 years from now, 20 years from now, or 30 years from now?” When all those cement plants will either have been changed or completely replaced. The size of the physical economy, and the fact that it’s not like the digital economy in terms of how quickly it can change, and the amount of capital and current practices that are hard to change.

I’m really amazed by the industrial economy. It’s a miracle that all these things are so cheap and they’re so reliable. People almost ignore them. But here, now they really need to pay attention to a lot of those areas because we need policies and companies that are saying this clean approach can come somewhere near to the price of the current dirty, emitting approach.

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8th - 10th April 2025
Ravenna - Italy
OMC Med Energy