Cross-posted from Daniel Cressey on The Great Beyond
Bill Gates has expressed concern that focusing aid money on climate change at the expense of health could lead to hundreds of thousands of deaths.
In the 2010 annual letter from his charitable foundation, Gates notes that the Copenhagen Summit talked of pushing for $10 billion per year for the next three years to help developing countries deal with climate change, with a $100 billion per year by 2020 goal.
“I am concerned that some of this money will come from reducing other categories of foreign aid, especially health,” he writes. “If just 1 percent of the $100 billion goal came from vaccine funding, then 700,000 more children could die from preventable diseases.”
Gates warns that the financial crisis and many countries’ budget deficits mean there is a real risk of aid budgets either being cut or not increasing. He singles out the Italian government for criticism for their recent scaling back of foreign aid.
The letter goes on to say Gates is spending a lot of personal time on energy and climate and that it is vital that governments supply “large amounts” of funding for basic research as the world attempts to develop sources of cheap, low-carbon electricity.
“I am surprised that the climate debate hasn’t focused more on encouraging R&D since it is critical to getting to zero emissions,” says Gates. “Still, I think it is likely that out of the many possible approaches, at least one scalable innovation will emerge in the next 20 years and be installed widely in the 20 years after that.”
The Gates Foundation itself has not invested in this area, he says, as it concentrates its funding where there is not a large potential market.