Bill Gates: Why I’m for Washington State’s Carbon Fee

Source:  Bill Gates, LinkedIn, October 9, 2018.

Here in Washington state, climate change is on the ballot. If Initiative 1631 passes in November, it will create a fee on emissions that cause climate change, with the goal of boosting the effort to stop the planet from getting disastrously warm.

You may be skeptical about this idea. I know I was. How can one state make a difference on a global problem like climate change? And unlike some supporters of the initiative, I am not interested in attacking the companies that provide the affordable, reliable energy that keeps our houses warm, our cars on the road, and our economy humming.

But I overcame my doubts. I support 1631. I will contribute to the Yes on 1631 campaign, I will vote yes when I fill out my ballot, and I am encouraging others to do the same.

It’s important to remember what is at stake. Climate change may be the toughest problem humanity has ever faced. To avoid the worst scenarios, we need to reduce global net greenhouse gas emissions to essentially zero in the next 50 years. Changing how we power our homes and cars won’t be enough. We also need to get to zero in every other major source of greenhouse gases, including manufacturing, transportation, and agriculture.

It’s a huge challenge, but it is solvable. We’ll need technological breakthroughs that let us run the economy—grow food, make things, move people and goods, and so on—without emitting greenhouse gases.

I am involved with a private fund, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, that is investing more than $1 billion to help entrepreneurs start new companies that will develop those breakthroughs.

But with a challenge this big and this urgent, startups need more than funding. Entrepreneurs also need new market structures that will create incentives to bring innovations out of the lab and into the market. That’s where 1631 comes in.

There are three reasons I’m in favor of this initiative.

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