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Bill Gates defends using private jets despite climate activism

Boeing 777-300 at O'Hare International Airport. (E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune/TNS)
February 08, 2023

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates recently sought to justify his use of private jets despite his claims of climate activism.

Gates shared his reasoning during a BBC interview in Kenya on Friday that included offsetting his carbon footprint with climate innovations worth “billions of dollars.”

“Should I stay at home and not come to Kenya and learn about farming and malaria?” he asked reporter Amol Rajan. “I’m comfortable with the idea that not only am I not part of the problem by paying for the offsets, but also through the billions that my Breakthrough Energy Group is spending, that I’m part of the solution.”

In 2021, Gates owned four private jets, two Gulfstream G650ERs and two Bombardiers Challenger 350s that had a combined value of $194 million, according to Skyluxe Aviation.

Gates founded Breakthrough Energy in 2015 to “work on the actual climate technologies our world will need to meaningfully reduce emissions” and brings public and private sectors together “to accelerate market formation, spur further innovation, and reduce Green Premiums.” 

The effort has already invested more than $2 billion in climate technologies, including carbon footprint reduction and solar and nuclear fission investments.

The International Energy Agency, however, has stated that his company’s efforts to capture carbon dioxide from the air are expensive and do not provide an excuse to reduce cutting emissions.

“Carbon removal technologies such as DAC are not an alternative to cutting emissions or an excuse for delayed action, but they can be an important part of the suite of technology options used to achieve climate goals,” the organization stated, according to CNBC.

Gates is not alone in his efforts to downplay apparent hypocrisy over the use of a private jet to promote climate activism. Biden administration Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry made a similar argument in 2021 following accusations against his use of private flights.

“If you offset your carbon, it’s the only choice for somebody like me who is traveling the world to win this battle,” he argued. “The time it takes me to get somewhere, I can’t sail across the ocean. I have to fly, meet with people and get things done.”

Both Gates and Kerry were contributors at the recent World Economic Forum in Switzerland that gathered elite billionaires to address climate change initiatives. The annual gathering in Davos has often been the source of criticism over liberal ideas that are disconnected from the lives of everyday people.