Last month, during a trip to Europe, I mentioned that I plan to invest $1 billion in clean energy technology over the next five years. This will be a fairly big increase over the investments I am already making, and I am doing it because I believe that the next half-decade will bring many breakthroughs that will help solve climate change. As I argued in this 2010 TED talk, we need to be able to power all sectors of the economy with sources that do not emit any carbon dioxide.
But when it comes to preventing the worst effects of climate change, the investments I make will matter much less than the choices that governments make. In Europe I got to talk about these choices with several political leaders, and in this post I want to share the steps that I encouraged them to take.
I think this issue is especially important because, of all the people who will be affected by climate change, those in poor countries will suffer the most. Higher temperatures and less-predictable weather would hurt poor farmers, most of whom live on the edge and can be devastated by a single bad crop. Food supplies could decline. Hunger and malnutrition could rise. It would be a terrible injustice to let climate change undo any of the past half-century’s progress against poverty and disease—and doubly unfair because the people who will be hurt the most are the ones doing the least to cause the problem.