In his new book, “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster”, Bill Gates sets out the technological breakthroughs and radical policies we need to tackle global warming. He has strong views on food in particular.
Plant-based transition necessary
The co-founder of Microsoft, who is now co-chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and chairman of the investment fund Breakthrough Energy Ventures, sticks to his previously made arguments regarding the fact that we will need numerous energy breakthroughs to have any hope of cleaning up all parts of the economy. The bulk of the book outlines the technologies needed to reduce carbon emissions in “difficult-to-solve” industries such as steel, cement and agriculture.
According to Gates, agriculture is making technological advances with, for example, the use of more efficient fertilisers and engineered seeds. But when it comes to meat, he is less optimistic. He considers the switch to plant-based alternatives inevitable, especially in richer countries. “I don’t think the poorest 80 countries will be eating synthetic meat,” Gates told Technology Review. “I do think all rich countries should move to 100% synthetic beef. You can get used to the taste difference, and the claim is they’re going to make it taste even better over time.”
Gates is doubtful on whether lab meat will ever breakthrough on a large scale. But he sees great potential in meat substitutes. Although they do not yet represent 1 per cent of the market, they are on the right track: “The people like Memphis Meats who do it at a cellular level—I don’t know if that will ever be economical. But Impossible and Beyond have a road map, a quality road map and a cost road map, that makes them totally competitive.”