Because the highest impact changes we can make happen at a systemic level, we'll require systemic change that can only happen if governments create the environment for them. Legislation is the single most important part of the climate change solution. Legislators work for those keeping them in power, whether that is their constituencies or special interests. It is then imperative that people and organisations insist that their representatives enact these measures.
Supply and Demand
Bill Gates puts these new laws into two categories, based on basic economic principles of supply: that is, creating the environment for innovations to happen; and demand: creating incentives to make people want these solutions.
Expand the Supply of Innovation.
Here, we're talking about classic research and development, where great scientists drum up the technologies we need.
- Quintuple clean energy and climate-related R&D over the next decade.
- Make bigger bets on high-risk, high-reward R&D projects.
- Match R&D with our greatest needs.
- Work with industry from the beginning.
Accelerate the Demand for Innovation
There are two phases to demand, the proof phase and the scale up phase.
- The proof phase
This is where the approaches have to be proven in a market. The proof phase is a valley of death: a place where good ideas go to die. Governments can help companies to make it through the proof phase.
- Use procurement power.
- Create incentives that lower costs and reduce risk.
- Build the infrastructure that will get new technologies to market.
- Change the rules so new technologies can compete.
- The scale up phase.
This is how government can help with rapid, large-scale deployment, by helping make these as or more cost effective as their high-emission counterparts.
- Put a price on carbon.
- Clean electricity standards.
- Clean fuel standards.
- Clean product standards.
- Change outdated policies
Levels of Government
These are big, expensive changes, and a coordinated effort among all levels of government is required. Here are the efforts that must be made at each level.
Gates, Bill. How to Avoid a Climate Disaster (p. 203-216). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.