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Bill Gates defends private jet use despite climate advocacy

Climate change: Billionaire Bill Gates says he is part of solutions, not the problem.

February 09, 2023 / 02:06 PM IST
Bill Gates, the world’s fourth-richest person.

Bill Gates, the world’s fourth-richest person.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates reportedly owns four private jets but he believes that does not contradict his climate advocacy.

In a recent interview with the BBC, the world's fourth-richest person responded to the criticism regarding his private planes, and whether it is hypocritical to use them while championing environmental causes.

Bill Gates' company Microsoft had tied up with the Swiss firm Climeworks in 2022 to have 10,000 tons of CO₂ emissions removed from the atmosphere in 10 years. Microsoft also says it is committed to remove all of its historic CO2 emissions by 2050.

“Well, I buy the gold standard of funding Climeworks, to do direct air capture that far exceeds my family’s carbon footprint,” he told the BBC during an interview in Kenya.

"I spent billions of dollars on climate innovations," he added.

Also read: Louis Vuitton boss sells private jet as Twitter accounts keep close watch on his flights

During the interview, Gates highlighted his Breakthrough Energy fund, set up to invest in clean technology.

In 2021, the billionaire and the US government had announced $1.5 billion funding to combat the climate crisis.

The billionaire told the BBC: "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. I am part of the solution."

Gates asked if he should not travel for his philanthropic efforts

"Should I stay at home and not come to Kenya and learn about farming and malaria?” he told the BBC.

 'Ultra polluting' jets

The world's rich and famous are increasingly drawing criticism for using private jets, amid intensifying calls to take action against climate change.

Most recently, global campaigner Greenpeace slammed the high-profile attendees of the 2023 Davos summit, who travelled to the Swiss ski resort aboard private jets.

"Given that 80% of the world’s population has never even flown, but suffers from the consequences of climate-damaging aviation emissions, and that the WEF claims to be committed to the 1.5°C Paris Climate Target, this annual private jet bonanza is a distasteful masterclass in hypocrisy,"  Klara Maria Schenk, Greenpeace's transport campaigner said."

Many others are calling out the billionaires through social media accounts giving updates on their flight activity.

One of them is "I Fly Bernard", that traces Louis Vuitton boss Bernard Arnault's jet. The account operator says they want to expose billionaires by tracking their "ultra-polluting private planes".

Another popular account tracked Elon Musk's jet but was shut down after the Tesla boss took over ownership of Twitter

Also read: Twitter account of student who tracked Elon Musk's private jet suspended

first published: Feb 9, 2023 02:02 pm