Bill Gates wants companies to try something unusual: end subsidies for fossil fuels

At a meeting of global leaders held last November, billionaire investor Bill Gates suggested that wealthy investors pool money to green their portfolios. But as he was speaking, political leaders were discussing the need…

Bill Gates wants companies to try something unusual: end subsidies for fossil fuels

At a meeting of global leaders held last November, billionaire investor Bill Gates suggested that wealthy investors pool money to green their portfolios. But as he was speaking, political leaders were discussing the need to reach a deal in Paris in December 2015 to prevent the worst effects of climate change.

The Paris climate deal reached in December 2015 took only three months to hammer out, but it is already outdated. Scientists say the worst impacts of climate change will already be present by the time the treaty enters into force.

As a result, those who speak of saving the environment — including environmentalists, philanthropists and even the U.S. president — are now talking about dealing with climate change in a way that will not only avoid the worst effects of climate change, but also help manage the coming threat of irreversible loss of biodiversity.

The rising awareness of the environmental problems emerging from climate change has led some U.S. policymakers to realize that financial markets can be used as an institutional tool in the fight against the problem.

Among wealthy investors, two of the most active are the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Nicholas Stern Center for Business and the Environment.

Washington D.C.-based Nicholas Stern’s Center has been at the forefront of global efforts to help companies — from corporations to states and regions — become more sustainable for over 15 years. It also says that financial capital and regulation can play key roles in helping solve environmental problems. Stern is a leading financial economist who helped shape international financial regulation following the global financial crisis.

Gates, meanwhile, has become an outspoken advocate for global action to fight the climate crisis. He has collected billions of dollars in donations for groups dedicated to ending climate change. The billionaire has also been an outspoken critic of spending to promote climate policies while those efforts to tackle the problem are clearly failing.

In a New York Times op-ed in October last year, he called on leaders to take “drastic action,” like raising carbon prices and cutting subsidies for fossil fuels. “Don’t procrastinate.” he wrote. “The rest of the world is depending on us.”

–Brittany Green-Gould, senior communications manager of the Nicholas Stern Center for Business and the Environment

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