EXCLUSIVE: Bill Gates: ‘We’ll have more crises like the oil spill’ if we don’t invest in clean energy innovation

By Katie Cline

Jun 12, 2010 1:35pm

In an exclusive interview on “This Week,” Bill Gates, the co-founder and chairman of Microsoft, called for a dramatic increase in federal funding for clean energy innovation and warned of significant consequences – more environmental crises, oil supply disruptions, increased energy costs and climate change – if the United States fails to embrace the challenge of finding cheaper, cleaner energy.


Gates said the United States should invest $16 billion a year in energy research and development – $11 billion more than it currently spends – to find “real solutions” to our energy problems.


“What we’re talking about is about one percent of what the United States spends on energy being devoted to R&D,” Gates said. If we spend that one percent, he said, the U.S. “can tap into the unique ability in this country, through its universities, national labs [and] entrepreneurs, to give us a form of energy that is both cheaper, not dependent on foreign supply and is environmentally designed so that we’re not emitting carbon and getting into the climate change problem.”


Gates warned of the consequences of not investing in energy research: “We’ll have more crises like the oil spill and we’ll have the supply disruption. We’ll start to see more and more effects of the climate problem,” Gates advised.


“The costs will go up because you’re looking for oil in harder and harder places. … So you’ll just be paying more and more.  And so it’s an implicit tax.  If you don’t innovate, it’s this gigantic cost that we’ll be paying,” he said.


“I’m just so clear that this is a great investment and…plays to America’s strength,” Gates explained. “This is what we do well.”


Gates spoke to host Jake Tapper after announcing his new report, “A Business Plan for America’s Energy Future”, with other top American business executives.


The report calls for a substantial increase in spending on energy innovation research and development by the government. It insists the status quo is unsustainable. “Most of the technologies that underlie the current energy system were invented decades ago,” the report said, “and are increasingly costly, brittle, and incompatible with a clean future.”

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