National Post (Latest Edition)

Gates urges R&D to cut factory emissions

Emphasis on cement and steel manufactur­ing

- Katy Daigle

WASHINGTON • Bill Gates exudes optimism in discussing the world’s ability to tackle climate change — until he hits on manufactur­ing. About that, he is worried.

There is currently no way to make steel or cement without releasing climate-warming emissions. yet, neither government­s nor investors are looking hard to solve that problem, Gates said.

“That’s the sector that bothers me the most,” Gates said in a video interview with reuters ahead of the publicatio­n this week of his book, How to Avoid a Climate disaster.

The software-developer-turned-philanthro­pist has invested some us$2 billion toward the developmen­t of clean technologi­es. but those investment­s are in electricit­y generation and storage, not in manufactur­ing.

Manufactur­ing — especially in the cheap constructi­on staples steel and cement — accounts for roughly a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. That makes manufactur­ing more polluting than the power or transporta­tion sectors, which receive far more attention in policies and investment­s. And the manufactur­ing sector is set to grow, as the global population climbs and countries further develop.

“People still need basic shelter, certainly in developing countries,” said Gates, cofounder of Microsoft Corp. “It’s unlikely we’ll stop building buildings.”

Gates plans to push for more research and innovation at the un climate conference in Glasgow in November. “The idea is to get innovation, including r&d, onto the agenda … not just looking at the easy stuff.”

during the 2015 un climate talks in Paris, Gates helped to launch a global initiative called Mission Innovation along with u.s. president barack Obama, France’s president François Hollande and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to link national government­s with the private sector in pursuing and sharing clean technology.

We need “total co-ordination, and in fact some overlap is a very good thing to have,” Gates told reuters. but he said there should be diversity in the solutions being sought so government­s do not end up duplicatin­g efforts.

right now, for example, “they’re doing a lot of green hydrogen products,” Gates said. “but who’s doing the hard stuff ?”

Some manufactur­ing plants may be able to lower their emissions by plugging into an electricit­y grid run on renewable energy. but that will not solve all emissions from steel- and cement-making, both processes that release carbon dioxide as a byproduct.

In the u.s., it hasn’t helped to have energy policy yo-yo between presidenti­al administra­tions, he said.

 ?? JASON Lee / reuters FILES ?? “The idea is to get innovation, including R&D, onto the agenda … not just looking at the easy stuff,” Microsoft founder Bill Gates said of the UN climate conference in Glasgow.
JASON Lee / reuters FILES “The idea is to get innovation, including R&D, onto the agenda … not just looking at the easy stuff,” Microsoft founder Bill Gates said of the UN climate conference in Glasgow.

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