‘Climate Change Campaigner’ Gates on His Use of Private Jet: ‘Not Part of the Problem’

Amy Gamm
By Amy Gamm
February 8, 2023USshare
‘Climate Change Campaigner’ Gates on His Use of Private Jet: ‘Not Part of the Problem’
Businessman Bill Gates arrives for TIME 100 Gala at Lincoln Center in New York on June 8, 2022. (Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)

Billionaire Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said his private jet travel around the world to fight climate change is justified because he “spends billions of dollars on climate innovation.”

Gates made the statement to BBC’s Amol Rajan in a Feb. 3 interview in Kenya when the broadcaster asked him to defend the charge against him that a “climate change campaigner” who travels “around the world in a private” jet is a hypocrite.

Gates told the BBC that he more than offsets his and his family’s personal emissions through his investment in many innovative climate change projects.

“Well, by the gold standard of funding Climeworks to do direct air capture, that far exceeds my family’s carbon footprint,” he said.

Climeworks is a Swiss company that developed a novel technology, called “direct air capture,” to “suck” carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the air and store it underground, “where they can no longer contribute to global warming,” according to the company’s website.

The company provides carbon offsets for Microsoft, Stripe, and Shopify, Business Insider reported.

The business and technology news platform claimed that CO2 removal is “key to helping solve the climate crisis.”

“While planting trees and restoring wetlands can soak up carbon, nature can’t be the only solution because there simply isn’t enough space on Earth,” Insider explains. “That’s where direct air capture comes in, though it’s still in its early stages,” similar to where solar and wind technology were in the 1980s.

“I’m comfortable with the idea that not only am I not part of the problem by paying for the offsets,” Gates told the BBC, “but also through the billions that my Breakthrough Energy group is spending, that I’m part of the solution.”

Purpose of Gates’s Trip to Kenya

According to the BBC interview, the philanthropist has pledged $7 billion to support various African institutions “to fight hunger, disease, gender inequality, and poverty.” And Gates being physically on the ground in Kenya, “allows him to assess whether his money is being put to good use.”

For instance, according to Gates’s blog, “GatesNotes,” one stop on his trip to Kenya was at a small farm in rural Makueni County, south-east of Nairobi, to better understand how farmers “are faring in the face of climate change” and what innovations they’ve developed to “continue to grow crops and earn an income.”

“Should I stay home and not come to Kenya and learn about farming and malaria?” Gates asked the BBC.

“I don’t think you can do this remotely,” he said.

However, according to a 2021 Transport and Environment (T&E) report, private jets are on average 10 times more carbon-intensive than commercial airliners.

In just one hour, a single private jet can emit 2 tonnes of CO2, the report stated, while the average person living in the European Union (EU) emits 8.2 tonnes of CO2 over the course of an entire year.

“Flying on a private jet is probably the worst thing you can do for the environment,” T&E’s aviation director Andrew Murphy said, “and yet super-rich super polluters are flying around like there’s no climate crisis.”

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