Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates has been criticized after saying during a recent interview that he can justify the use of a private jet while still working to combat the climate crisis.
Mr Gates was asked last Friday during an interview with the BBC how he responds to critics that point out he uses a private plane even while urging civic and government leaders to take urgent action against the climate crisis.
The Microsoft founder said the criticisms were unfounded, as his carbon contribution by flying in a private jet is offset by the amount of carbon dioxide he pays to remove from the atmosphere.
“Well, I buy the gold standard, of funding Climeworks, to do direct air capture that far exceeds my family’s carbon footprint,” Mr Gates said.
Climeworks is a company that uses direct air capture technology to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere over the course of six years at the behest of individuals and corporations. The captured carbon dioxide is then reportedly stored underground, according to Yahoo News.
The International Energy Agency wrote in 2022 that while carbon removal is an important tool to help combat the climate crisis, “removal technologies such as DAC are not an alternative to cutting emissions or an excuse for delayed action…”
Mr Gates also said he needed to travel in order to continue investing and supporting clean energy and environmental and public health programs.
“I spend billions of dollars on … climate innovation. So, you know, should I stay at home and not come to Kenya and learn about farming and malaria?” he asked during the interview.
Transportation is the third largest contributor to climate pollution, just after land use and energy production, and private jets are among the worst polluters, according to an analysis by the BBC. The World Wildlife Fund describes aviation as “the most carbon intensive activity an individual can make.”
Despite this, Mr Gates is insistent that he is not adding to the ever growing problem caused by the climate crisis.
“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 … I’m part of the solution,” he told the interviewers.
Mr Gates’ remarks attracted some criticism on social media.
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