Bill Gates has poured cold water on climate activists’ attempts to lobby investors to abandon fossil fuel stocks.
The billionaire tech tycoon-turned-philanthropist said it would be more worthwhile to urge investors to back emerging technology that helps cut carbon emissions.
Speaking to the Financial Times, Gates said: “Divestment, to date, probably has reduced about zero tonnes of emissions. It’s not like you’ve capital-starved [the] people making steel and gasoline.”
“I don’t know the mechanism of action where divestment [keeps] emissions [from] going up every year. I’m just too damn numeric.”
Influential funds including a vehicle for the Rockefeller family’s oil fortune have divested their holdings in fossil fuel stocks in recent years.
Organisations such as the Church of England have done the same, in a bid to use finance to fight climate change.
But Gates said those backing the divestment movement would be better off using their money to fund disruptive businesses like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, non-meat protein food companies he has supported.
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He said: “When I’m taking billions of dollars and creating breakthrough energy ventures and funding only companies who, if they’re successful, reduce greenhouse gases by 0.5%, then I actually do see a cause and effect type thing.”
The Microsoft founder and his wife Melinda run the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, which today released its latest “Goalkeepers” report, which looks to measure how far the world has come in trying to meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals adopted in 2015.