Literature/202311101858 avoiding a climate disaster

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There are very interesting insights in how Bill Gates thinks climate disaster can be avoided. It goes from technology innovations, to policy changes with, to my opinion, a very realistic perception of the world. It is heavily centered around the US, which is a pity given the global scale of the problem.

The core message is: We need to get to net zero by 2050. There is no way in which suffering will not be catastrophic. And with that timeline in mind, he drills down on different aspects.

Today, we emit 51 billion tons of CO2. Therefore, whatever project we come across, we must ask ourselves, what percentage of those 51 billion are we talking about. It is crucial, therefore, Identifying the biggest solutions, since resources are limited.

There's also a very interesting breakdown table to compare what activities emit the most:

| Activity | Contribution | |:-----|:-----| | Making things | 31% | | Electricity | 27% | | Growing Things | 19% | | Getting Around | 16% | | Keeping Warm and Cool | 7% |

This means that no single solution will address the issue fully. There must be a combination of things, from making cement and steel to finding ways of growing food without emissions.

Importantly, it introduces the concept of green premiums, meaning the extra cost that it would have to convert something from a CO2 emitting process to a net-zero one. Parsing things from this economic perspective, helps lay out plans, also for policy making.

Some other, more specific notes:

A message which I found important, is that we should not let the short-term boycott the real goal: reach net-zero by 2050 or earlier. If the goal is to reduce emissions by 2030, we may decide to build a gas-powered electric plant, which will be operational until 2070, therefore eliminating all chances of success.

Planting trees, if you are a company, is more about the message you send, than the effects of the trees. It shows politicians and society that you are willing to incur in some extra expenses in favor of avoiding a climatic disaster.


This book is tightly related to The Future we Choose - Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac. However, I think it gives a much deeper perspective into issues and solutions. It is not going to be easy, but we should focus and do it. It discusses caveats, and does not put all the responsibility on the shoulders of individuals.


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Aquiles Carattino
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