Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates called on India to play a central role in the fight against climate change and lauded the South Asian nation’s leadership in renewable energy.
Speech at the fifth Ramnath Goenka Lecture organized by The Indian Express newspaper, Mr. Gates voiced his concerns about the climate crisis and called for scientific innovation to address the problem.
The billionaire, who has invested more than $2 billion in climate technologies, said finding solutions that are both cheap and reliable to tackle the climate crisis is a major challenge.
“The challenge is quite big when it comes to creating solutions that are not only cheap but also reliable,” said Mr. Gates.
“I find these challenges exciting and I always see an opportunity for innovation when we can attract young people and explain this challenge to them and give them capital. Then I think innovation can help continue human progress,” he said.
Mr Gates said India, where half the population is under the age of 25, can play a key role in tackling the climate crisis and called for young people to be involved in finding solutions.
“We need innovations from all over the world, but a lot from India in particular,” he said.
“You have 700 million young people, you have educational institutions, it’s going from strength to strength. So we need innovations from all over the world, but a lot from India in particular.
“We expect a significant part of that from India so that we can meet the great challenges of the world.
“India is at the forefront of showcasing all sorts of innovative applications,” he said.
India, which is the world’s third largest polluter but has very low per capita emissions compared to developed nations, has shown rapid progress on the renewable energy front and is aiming to reach net zero by 2070.
The co-chair and trustee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also emphasized that “most of the emissions” that contribute to heating come from rich countries, and yet “most of the damage” occurs in middle- and low-income countries will be those near the equator.
“So it’s an incredible injustice,” he said, adding, “Even if it comes to mind, we need to act on a grand scale now.”
Mr Gates said the “global innovation boom” is tackling the difficult problems of climate change.
“It’s getting a little worse somewhere every year, but it’s one of the hardest problems to fix,” he said.