At this year’s TechCrunch Sessions: Climate 2022, Bill Gates joined me onstage for a wide-ranging conversation that included an updated assessment of our progress on mitigating climate change since the publication of his 2021 book How to avoid a climate catastrophe. I drew an analogy between our global response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the threat of climate change, but Gates pointed out that the changes needed to avert a climate catastrophe are actually much larger and more comprehensive than the steps needed to address it of a pandemic are required imminent pandemic with urgency.
As to why he remains optimistic about the ability of global social action to address climate issues, he pointed to countries outside of the US that stand as role models for how to minimize the health impact of COVID, though in any case they are would have fewer resources for it. He also pointed to the great strides we’ve made since 2015, the end of the last green tech boom, particularly in terms of an “IQ shift” that has seen talent and skills move towards the development of real solutions in the laboratory instead of going, for example in terms of maximizing returns in the banking sector.
Gates also said that economic conditions are “probably changing faster than I’ve ever seen in my life right now,” and this creates a lot of uncertainty about how and where capital can be deployed to mitigate the kind of drastic ones to make unprecedented changes needed in key industries, including manufacturing, that not only invest early, but also need fuel to scale quickly.
We also managed to address Gates’ views on the value of crypto (or lack thereof?) and he considered Bored Apes and all they have contributed to the world. Spoilers: He is neither a crypto maximalist nor a minimalist.
I also asked Gates where he thinks the biggest innovations still need to be made to make progress on avoiding the worst impacts of climate change. His response included a particular focus on mitigation, made affordable and at scale where it will have the greatest impact, including regions like Africa.
These are just a few highlights, and our entire conversation even touched on Elon Musk’s recent cheap shots at him on Twitter. You can watch the entire 30-minute chat by purchasing a TC Sessions: Climate virtual ticket, which gives you access to all programming at the event in full on-demand, as well as our online-only day on Thursday.