What is particularly unfortunate about Gates’ mistaken rhetoric is that it can disempower people and policymakers and pundits into thinking that individual or even government action is not the central weapon needed to win the climate fight and that our only hope is some long-term deus ex machina strategy to avoid catastrophic warming. Nothing could be worse than leaving people with the impression that humanity’s only hope is future miracles — especially since a quarter-century of largely ignoring the warnings of climate scientists has left us with quite literally no time left to dawdle in exponentially ramping up deployment….while a boost in cleantech R&D funding is always welcome, what is most needed now is money for accelerated deployment and project financing of technologies that are now market-ready. Low or zero-interest loans and loan guarantees can leverage money 50-to-1 (since default rates are 2 percent or less). With $2 billion, you could create a $100 billion revolving fund for backing clean tech projects — which is getting to the scale of investment we need… key points are:
- The world needs about 100 times as much money for deployment of carbon-free energy as it does for R&D right now;
- Key developing countries like India are making decisions about building coal vs. carbon-free power right now that could lock in carbon pollution for decades; and
- Genuine technology breakthroughs are exceedingly rare in the energy arena and generally take decades and vast resources to deploy once they do make it to market.
..of Gates: “The man built his career on shipping ‘what we have now’ and then improving it, using programmers paid out of the revenues gained from shipping not-quite-yet-ready product…. His business strategy for his entire life was antithetical to the [Bjorn] Lomborg nonsense ‘don’t do anything until the Big Research Lab In The Sky Makes It Perfect’.”..We simply don’t have the time to wait for Energy Miracles, and Gates simply hasn’t proposed the best strategy to achieve his wish — dramatic improvement in performance and a sharp drop in price….The time to act — to deploy — is now.