President Donald Trump wants the nation to retreat from climate change issues—and American philanthropists are not on board.
Bill Gates, for example, is one of the most devoted philanthropists to climate change issues. Over the past two years, his charity, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has donated more than $1 billion to clean energy research and development. His latest commitment to the cause, however, tackles the problem from a fresh angle.
On Wednesday, the Gates Foundation announced a $300 million grant to help farmers in Africa and Asia adapt to climate change through innovations in agriculture. The pledge was announced while Gates was attending the 2017 global climate summit in Paris, the second anniversary of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
“This is a pivotal moment. We need to adapt to the climate change that is already affecting the planet, and develop new tools that will keep the problem from getting worse. Innovation is key to doing both,” Gates wrote in a LinkedIn post this morning. “Scientific advances in crop science, for example, will help farmers deal with changing weather patterns.”
Two-thirds of the world’s poorest population live in Africa and Asia, where more than 800 million people feed on local crops, according to the Gates Foundation.
In an interview with LinkedIn’s Editor in Chief Daniel Roth in Paris, Gates pointed out that one bad farming year could translate to starvation. “It’s already 1 centigrade warmer, and there will be more. The most vulnerable people [of global warming] in the world are subsistence farmers, particularly in Africa. [They] are already having the rain being less predictable and lots of hot days, which limits the productivity of their crops,” Gates said.
“These are the people who have done nothing to contribute to the climate change. The people who have contributed to it have air conditioning, and they have nice houses. Although they will be affected, it’s nothing like the life-or-death circumstances that the poor will face,” he added.
The European Union will match Gates’ pledge. The combined $600 million fund will be allocated in the next three years to support scientific research in finding better crop seeds, protecting crops from droughts and floods, and developing advanced farming methods, such as “helping them analyze their soil or use water more efficiently,” Gates wrote.
When the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, the Gates Foundation launched a $1 billion fund called Breakthrough Energy Ventures to support clean energy research, as part of the multi-billion-dollar Breakthrough Energy Coalition formed by 15 private-sector companies.
On June 1, President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. will cease all participation in the Paris Agreement after the first term ends in 2020. One day later, philanthropist and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg made a statement on LinkedIn, saying “Americans don’t need Washington to meet our Paris commitment, and Americans are not going to let Washington stand in the way of fulfilling it.”
The Paris global climate summit was co-hosted by the United Nations, the World Bank and French President Emmanuel Macron. More than 50 heads of state and government attended, but President Donald Trump wasn’t invited.