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💬 "Can we Tech our Way out of Climate Change?"


Photo by Mika Baumeister / Unsplash

Host: Kara Swisher
Guest: John Doerr | Chairman | Kleiner Perkins
Category: 💬 Opinion | Climate Tech

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Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[1:30] KS: “You pledged $1.1 billion to Stanford University to fund a school focused on climate change and sustainability. You said climate and sustainability is going to be the new computer science. As someone who has invested in computer science most of their career, it's something to say.”

[3:36] JD: “Right now, only 2% of the world's philanthropy is devoted to climate.

[6:22] KS: “You had a 2007 TED Talk […], where you said green tech, going green is bigger than the internet. It could be the biggest economic opportunity in the 21st century. You put a billion dollars into 70 companies, many of them didn't make it. You were very early.”

[10:38] JD: “The most important thing you must do is lower the cost. You've got to take what Bill Gates calls the green premium to zero or near zero. As best I can tell consumers will pay a green premium for what they eat and what they put on their face. But for nothing else. […] Everything else must compete in price. And what we must do is actually very clearly laid out in this action plan that we have called Speed and Scale. And so we say one of two personal vehicles purchased worldwide need to be electric vehicles by 2030, and 95% of them by 2040. That's a huge lift.”

[12:35] JD: “The principal thing at stake is the energy incentives for clean energy deployment, for decarbonizing the grid. Overall, the problem […] is 59 gigatons. That's how much CO2 pollution we are dumping in our precious atmosphere every year, like it's some kind of free and open sewer. Now for these energy incentives, Biden has declared that he wants to cut US emissions by 50% by 2030. And the biggest way to get there will be by putting incentives in place for solar and wind. We can take 24 gigatons of current emissions down to 3 gigatons globally if we get the appropriate energy incentives.”

[14:21] JD: “What we have to do […] is to turn this into a kitchen table kind of issue, that it affects health. One in five deaths are premature due to carbon pollution. The Biden administration said that passing the clean energy incentives, according to utility executives, will immediately start saving American families $500 a year. That's a pocketbook issue.

[15:51] JD: “If we have supportive policy [there is a tech way out.] So tech alone will not get the job done. […] I say climate sciences in the new computer science. The markets are enormous. If you have clean energy that can be deployed at lower cost, more rapidly than the fossil fuel alternatives, eventually, you'll overcome the incumbent business and political interests. And to be clear, […] there are incumbents who will oppose you every step of the way.”

[21:04] JD: “Tesla has been the best thing that's happened to the EV movement. Because whatever the emissions reductions are from rich people buying Teslas. Elon’s impact, my rough estimate is he's accelerated the electrification of transportation on the planet by at least five years. And that overall is a 6 gigaton part of our plan.”

[27:47] JD: “The most important thing that we can do right now is decarbonize grids all around the world, and […] put in place the infrastructure to more rapidly deploy things like solar and wind. […] Further out to the future, I think one of the hardest things will be to do economical carbon removal. And our plan calls for 5 gigatons of each per year, both natural means, which means planting more trees […] and then there are mechanical trees, ways to remove carbon permanently and sequester it.”

[31:16] JD: “What we really need to make this happen isn't greater scale, we need greater speed. I'm worried we're going to run out of time. And we need better measurements also. […] There's a project called Climate TRACE. […] It's a nonprofit coalition of some 50 companies that are pooling their data in real time over emissions. […] It's kind of like Google Earth, that you can track the emissions of this carbon pollution all around the world. And they've agreed to standardize this information and make it available through APIs.”

[35:24] JD: “Solving climate change is the greatest opportunity that humankind has ever been presented with. It's the mother of all problems. It's large, it's systemic. And in the process of solving that we can achieve education equity. […] We can achieve health equity. We can eliminate gaps from racial and socio economic groups on greenhouse gas related mortality. And it's a great economic opportunity. It's 65 million new jobs to build this new clean economy.”

Rating: ☁️☁️☁️☁️

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify | Google
🕰️ 39 min | 🗓️ 06/13/2022
✅ Time saved: 36 min

Additional Links:
Book: “Speed & Scale: An Action Plan for Solving Our Climate Crisis Now” (John Doerr, 2021)

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