World counting on India to play central role: Bill Gates on innovation to address climate change

Bill Gates

Billionaire-philanthropist Bill Gates on Wednesday expressed concern over climate change and called for scientific innovations to address the problem, asking India to take the lead.

“It just gets worse somewhere slightly every year, but it’s one of the hardest things to fix because modern economies throughout the globe are based on energy intensity and over 80 per cent of this energy comes from burning hydrocarbons,” he said.

Gates, co-chair and trustee of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, was delivering the fifth Ramnath Goenka lecture on ‘Creating an Equal World: Power of Innovation’. The event was organised by The Indian Express Group.

To address the problem of climate change, he said, the challenge is “pretty incredible” when it comes to creating solutions that are not just cheap but also reliable.

“I find these challenges exciting and I always see a chance for innovation if we can get young people and explain that challenge to them and get capital to them. Then I think innovation can help continue with the human progress,” he said.

While the “global innovation boom” is taking on the tough problems of climate change, the world is “counting on India to play a central role”, Gates said.

“You have got 700 million young people, you have educational institutions, it just gets stronger. So we need innovation from the whole world, but a lot specifically from India,” he said.

“We are looking to India for a significant part of that so that we can overcome the world’s great challenges,” he added.

Gates noted that “most of the emission” contributing to heating comes from the rich countries and yet “most of the damage” will be in the middle income and lower income countries that are near the equator.

“So it’s an incredible injustice,” he said, adding, “Even though it kind of creeps up on you, we need to act now in a very big way.” Gates appreciated the works being done in the renewable energy sector in India.

“India is leading the way in showing all sorts of innovative applications,” he added.