Time for Congress to launch America’s clean industrial revolution

Bill Gates | LinkedIn Article Link to article

Right now, I’m heading to the international climate conference in Glasgow, known as COP26, where delegates will talk about how to cut greenhouse gas emissions from roughly 51 billion tons per year to zero by 2050. On my way out the door, I’m hearing news that makes me even more optimistic that the world can accomplish this extraordinarily difficult task: The U.S. is on the verge of making a historic investment in clean technologies through the Build Back Better Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. This package of legislation has many important provisions, from health to education, that we need to make progress on. But because I’m on my way to COP26, I want to write about the climate provisions.

Technological innovation is the only way the world can get to zero. So many of the processes of daily life currently emit carbon—flying on airplanes, building houses, eating hamburgers—so we need to invent new ways of doing them that are green. Then, after we invent them in the lab, we need to “commercialize” them—that is, make them effective, reliable, and cheap enough that people want to and can afford to buy them.

If the Congress passes these bills, the United States will be at the vanguard of powering a clean industrial revolution. To realize this version of the future, we need to do things like update the electric grid so it can carry more clean energy to more places, rethink how we create things like liquid fuels, and accelerate the time from lab to market for early-stage climate technologies. When I say accelerate, I mean by a lot. In the past, energy transitions have taken as long as a century. For the sake of a livable future, we need to do it in a decade or two.

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